I am so blown away by the outpouring of love and support that Jeff and I have received after sharing our mental health story. I am beyond excited to speak to students and community members to raise awareness around mental health conditions. Thank you to everyone who reached out, called, texted, commented, and sent messages to show your support!
It’s difficult to be vulnerable and speak publicly about something that is so personal and emotional. I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to connect with others who understand, who have been through the same things, or who have benefitted from hearing our story. I feel so passionate about this topic that I want to provide you with some additional information about how you can take action. We can all do our part to break the stigma surrounding mental illness.
3 Powerful Ways You Can Advocate for Mental Health:
1. Talk Openly about Mental Health
This one seems simple and easy but it is not. In our society, there are a lot of misunderstandings about mental health. Mental health seems to be a secret topic that is kept behind closed doors and not often spoken about openly. I believe that if more people started to speak about it more openly and honestly, the general public would learn a lot more about it.
If you have been diagnosed with a mental illness, this could mean opening up about it to your friends or family. Help them to understand what you have gone through and how they can help and support you. Speaking up about mental health gives others permission to speak up about their experiences. Speaking up also gives them the opportunity to learn from and listen to you. You may be surprised by how many people can relate or provide support in a really meaningful way!
Some people may be experiencing symptoms, and may not be aware that they are treatable. When you live a certain way your entire life, it can be difficult to identify if it’s really healthy or not. By talking to others openly about your experiences, you may help them to identify unhealthy patterns in their own life and seek help.
2. Educate Yourself about Mental Health
One of the best ways you can support yourself and others about mental health is to educate yourself. There are so many resources out there to learn more about signs and symptoms of mental illness, where to get help, and what treatment options are available.
A great place to start is NAMI’s (National Alliance on Mental Illness) website. NAMI provides advocacy, education, support and public awareness so that all individuals and families affected by mental illness can build better lives. They have dozens of helpful resources, workshops, support groups, help lines, etc.
A few other great places to start:
3. Get Involved – Volunteer or Donate
Another great way to be a mental health advocate is to get involved. A few examples of getting involved are volunteering or donating. You could participate in NAMI Walks, which are walks to benefit and raise awareness about mental health. They are now hosting virtual walks since many in-person walks are being canceled due to Covid restrictions. You can also donate to various mental health causes that provide support, education, and resources to the general public and to those affected by mental illness. Here are a few ideas:
Advocating for mental health doesn’t have to be difficult. Together we can create change and break the stigma!