How to become a mental health advocate? You do not need a degree, a diagnosis or work as a licensed therapist to become a mental health advocate. The general idea behind advocacy is supporting mental health by spreading awareness, reducing stigma and supporting the cause. If you are looking for a way to become a mental health advocate, don’t worry I’ve got your back.
1. Create a Mental Health Social Media Account
Social media is a significant platform for spreading mental health awareness. If you want to know more about the impact of social media check out my previous post, Why Instagram is the Platform to Talk About Mental Health. Do not let my Instagram obsession persuade you to think it’s the only platform to talk about mental health. Facebook and Twitter are great for starting a page or account. Post about mental health on a daily basis. You can post inspirational and motivational quotes, mental health statistics, short videos, imagery or anything that you believe will help educate others. It doesn’t matter how many followers you have; you are still making an impact whether it be 10 or 10,000. Here are a few Instagram accounts that will give you a good idea of what type of content to post: @mentalhealthdaily, @mentalhealth1st, @mentalhealthquotess
2. Share Mental Health Media
If you don’t have the time to maintain a social media account or page, don’t worry. Share articles, blog posts, resources, YouTube videos and news about mental health. You can share it on social media, email forwarding or text message these articles to friends and family.
Two of my favorite articles related to mental health from earlier this year are Kate Middleton Delivers Rare Speech About Mental Health & Demi Lovato Is Offering Free Mental Health Counseling to Fans on Tour.
3. Get Involved in the Mental Health Community
Volunteering and participating in mental health events are a great way to show your support as an advocate. I started out as a volunteer for NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness). If you are looking for volunteer opportunities I would contact your local NAMI affiliation.
NAMI Walks is coming up this Spring and depending on where you are located the “Out Of The Darkness” Walks are taking place as well. There are many opportunities to get involved, especially during this time of year.
4. Fundraise for Mental Health
Mental health is in need of funding for research, resources and raising awareness. Fundraising is a great way to advocate and raise money for a cause you are passionate about in mental health. For example, if you are passionate about suicide prevention, you can ‘Start a Campaign’ to raise money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
FaceBook has built tools to help users fundraise for nonprofits. It is super easy! Learn how you can collect donations on Facebook by going to ‘Charitable Giving Tools’.
Other mental health nonprofits include:
- Brain and Behavior Research Foundation
- Treatment Advocacy Center
- Mental Health America
- Trevor Project
5. Blog for a Mental Health Website
If you are passionate about mental health and writing, then look for opportunities to advocate by contributing posts to already established websites or blogs. It is a simple Google search of ‘mental health bloggers wanted.’ One of the biggest mental health platforms, HealthyPlace.com, is currently looking for bloggers (HealthyPlace Bloggers Wanted). These usually do not stay open long so I would get on it sooner than later when you find something that interests you. It can take some time before getting your post published on any mental health site but if you are serious about it then go for it.
6. Educate Others and Speak up for Mental Health
Educate others about mental health at the appropriate time, especially if stigma is present. For example, you are at a dinner party, and the conversation gets political. The person across from you says out loud, “People with mental illness are extremely violent.” This situation is a perfect time to step in as an advocate saying something along the lines of, “You know a lot of people think this, but recently I found research that shows people with major mental illness are more likely to be the victims of violence than other members of society.” Knowledge is power and spreading mental health awareness in casual conversation makes you a gold star advocate. If you are looking for more information or statistics about mental health go to “Mental Health By The Numbers or “Mental Health Myths and Facts”