What is advocacy?
Guest blog from Morgan Hunt Social Care and Health Team
Advocacy is a range of actions intended to help people live their best lives by ensuring they have access to the resources, knowledge, and opportunities they need. It can be about improving policies and laws, but it can also be about helping people access services like health care and housing and getting their voice heard.
Mental Health Advocacy
Advocacy in regard to mental health helps ensure people with mental health issues receive the support and services they need to recover, and can be an effective way of raising awareness about mental health issues and improving access to quality care. It means protecting the rights of people with mental illness against discrimination in employment, housing, and other areas of life.
Mental health advocates work to improve the lives of all people affected by mental illness by promoting their rights and interests and working to eliminate stigma.
Reducing the Stigma
Advocacy is about more than just talking about mental health issues. It’s about taking action and making a difference. This can help remove the stigma around mental health, increase access to services, and improve the quality of care for people who need it most.
You can make a huge difference by advocating for your own mental health or that of someone you love. It doesn’t always have to be difficult or stressful, here are some easy ways you can make a difference right now:
Know Your Rights — If you or someone you care about has a mental health issue, it’s important to know your rights when it comes to employment, insurance coverage, housing, and more.
Connect With Others Who Have Similar Experiences — Online communities provide peer-to-peer support from people who understand what living with a mental health condition is like.
How Advocates Can Improve People’s Lives
Advocates are often people who have experienced mental illness themselves and want to help others who are struggling with similar issues. They may have been through therapy or other treatment programs, which makes them more aware of what it takes for someone to recover from mental illness. They can help with the following:
- It provides the opportunity to speak out and be heard, to put experience into words and make it real.
- Help people gain access to the services they need and have a voice in the decisions made about their care.
- Help them find solutions to problems they may have had difficulty obtaining on their own, such as housing or employment.
- Help convince others that mental health issues are real and require treatment and support.
Here are a few quotes from mental health advocates and their experience:
“My work allows me to support people in ways that show and help them feel less isolated and helpless, in large (and often actively exclusionary) systems.”
“As an advocate I feel a great sense of achievement when clients express their gratitude for the significant positive impact I have had in supporting them with their wishes. Success stories are great motivation within the role and highlight how important it is to have a voice when it comes to mental health care.”
“I really enjoy the independence and autonomy the role gives me. I also enjoy giving people a voice during times they may feel vulnerable. “
“Being able to give the voiceless a voice. Supporting the most vulnerable, in times of crisis. “
“I love my job, I make a difference in people’s lives. As an advocate I have the power to request a new mental capacity assessment when I feel the one in place is wrong. I get results. I love my job.”
How You Can Be an Advocate
Anyone can be an advocate for themselves, for other people with mental health illnesses, and for those who don’t yet have access to needed resources. You can learn more about advocacy here.
Interested in becoming an advocate?
When it comes to mental health awareness and advocacy, we are definitely making steps in the right direction. However, there is still a long way to go before we can truly bring about change. As an advocate, you could help push both of these things along by joining the fight in your own way. Whether that is encouraging others to speak out, or sharing some of your own experiences with mental illness, advocacy is an important step brought towards a better future—for all of us.
If you’re interested in becoming an advocate, recruitment company Morgan Hunt regularly recruits roles within their Social Care and Health Team. If you’re interested in learning more you can email recruitment consultant Amara Howe, who specialises in recruiting advocates within the mental health sector here [email protected]
Posted on: 8th November 2022