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Mental Health Advocacy and Self-Advocacy

“Stand before the people you fear and speak your mind – even if your voice shakes.” – Maggie Kuhn.

In the words of DaShanne Stokes, it is only by speaking up that we achieve lasting change. But we often take this ability, this skill of speaking up for granted.

Ask yourself, have you ever been too scared to speak up in a certain situation? Have you always known all your options? Have you always made informed choices? Have you always felt empowered to make decisions about your own life?

If you answered no to the above, then having an advocate could be the most powerful tool in your arsenal.

What is a Mental Health Advocate?

 

An advocate is:

1.       Independent

2.     A paid individual that provides you a service for free

3.     On your side

4.     Someone who can help you express your views, wishes and feelings

5.     Someone who challenges decisions for you

6.     Someone who acts as your voice

7.      Someone who takes instruction from you

8.     Someone who gives you options and choices

9.     Someone who helps you understand the consequences of your decisions

10.   Someone who helps you understand and assert your rights

Advocacy is one of the services HFEH Mind offers, and it can really help you make your feelings heard. We are your voice. We take our lead from you. We speak up for you when you cannot speak up for yourself. We are fearless and tenacious in ensuring that your rights are upheld and ensured.

We work hard to understand you and what you are trying to achieve and try our best to ensure you have a platform to communicate this.

But more than this, we work with you to build your confidence, your skills and ability to self-advocate so you can assert yourself as the expert in your own life.

How can you learn to self-advocate?

1. Understand what you want to change

Do you want to challenge something? Do you want to create lasting change? Once you understand your goal, you can begin to move towards it.

2. Work on your confidence

Think about the things you do really well, work out the skills you have, believe in yourself. Create a self esteem jar, where you write all the great things people have said about you and open it when you need a boost.

3. Know your rights

Read up on the law, read up on policies and procedures of an organisation, seek advice from a free advice service, consult experts.

4. Make a plan or strategy to achieve your goal.

Remember to take small, achievable, measurable steps. Set mini goals. Create small targets. Check yourself on your progress. Challenge a lack of progress.

5. Express yourself clearly and concisely

Ensure you get the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ across quickly.

Finally, do not give up. You may not always succeed in being heard or understood, but try and try again. Remember to always speak… even if your voice shakes.

  • a mental health advocate
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Author: HFEHMind
Posted on: 29th October 2021

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