How To Advocate For Mental Health This Mental Health Action Day And Beyond
Mental health is not black and white. While the mental health stigma in our society may tell us otherwise, in reality, mental health is something we all have. And like our physical health, our emotional health has a range. Our thoughts and feelings will ebb and flow as we move through different chapters of our lives.
It is totally normal to struggle with your mental health. Yet, due to stigma and often times fear of judgement, many individuals struggle with their mental health all on their own.
If you saw someone fall, would you walk away or help them up? Chances are, you would reach out and give them a helping hand. Even though you can’t see the pain when it comes to mental health, everyone deserves this same level of grace and support whether they are struggling with physical or emotional pain.
The stigma associated with mental health is real. We hope that one day everyone will feel comfortable and safe enough to speak out about their own mental health issues and get the help they need. As a society we are not there yet, but as individuals we all have the power to advocate for mental health issues, support those who may be struggling, and ultimately work to stop the stigma.
What is a mental health advocate?
A mental health advocate is someone who helps give a voice to those who may not be ready to speak up about their own struggles and who creates space for more people to share their own stories.
One of the biggest barriers to individuals with mental health issues getting the help they need is an overwhelming feeling of being alone.
So many of us struggle with our mental health, yet so many of us also feel like no one else could possibly understand what we’re going through. This is largely because most of us choose to stay quiet when we struggle. We don’t want to be seen as “emotional” or “weak”, so we choose to struggle in silence.
The truth is speaking out about your own mental health struggles is incredibly brave. It takes courage to be vulnerable and put your own experiences out there. Opening up and sharing our stories leads to the most beautiful domino effect. Once you speak up you’ll likely inspire someone else to speak up and so on and so on. As more people speak up about our own experiences, less people feel alone. That is the powerful work of a mental health advocate.
How can I advocate for mental health?
Even if you have not struggled with your own mental health, you can certainly be an advocate. There are many ways you can advocate for mental health, both on a large and small scale.
Correct stigmatizing language: The way we talk matters. Certain language can contribute to the stigma and make people with mental health issues feel very alienated. If you are in a setting and hear people using stigmatized language, correct them! Want to know what to/not to say? This is a great guide to help you navigate that.
Support someone in your life: Is there someone in your life who just does not seem like themselves lately? If you’re worried that someone you love is struggling, start the conversation and let them know you are there for support. Show up with a relaxed, nonjudgemental attitude. Try to just listen. And if you can tell they don’t want to share, don’t force it.
Share your own struggles: Whether it is on social media or just in a one-on-one conversation with a friend, sharing our own struggles with mental health can help others feel less alone. This may be just what someone else needs to open up themselves and find the help they need.
Find a way to prioritize mental health in school and the workplace: Encourage your school or employer to take mental health care seriously by implementing rules and initiatives that support everyone’s mental health. Access to resources and allotted time off to care for mental health are some good ideas to start.
- Take part in the “Pass the PYM” challenge: This Mental Health Action Day, our goal is to create a movement that encourages mental health advocacy. Anyone can participate! The rules are as follows:
- Stitch Zak's video on TikTok and share 1 thing that has transformed your mental health.
- Use #passthepym in the caption
Not only is this a great way to advocate for mental health, but we will be selecting two random videos to win $1k each! Stitch the video by the end of the month for a chance to win!
Removing social stigma helps others. Together, we can best break the stigma and help others advocate for what is optimal for their mental wellbeing. Whether you share with a loved one, a single friend, or participate digitally, join the conversation, we hope you can best support yourself and others this Mental Health Awareness Month.