Mental Health Advocacy Issues From My Point Of View

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When I first started my Facebook page, which is a mental health support and awareness page, I had no idea that it would become as popular as it has. It is by no means what one would consider huge, but the followers of the page are there for support, insight and to feel that they are not alone in their day-to-day lives with mental illness and running the page has given me support as well as giving it to others. I consider it to be one of my very best contributions to Mental Health Awareness. One of the very first things that it states on my page is that I am not a doctor nor am I a mental health worker. I do not give medical advice, and I never encourage people to stop their medications. I always advocate for people to continue being open and honest with their doctors and counselors. I must make this point absolutely clear. I am an advocate, not a doctor or a snake oil salesman. I do not have the “cures” for Mental illness but I do have a ton of people backing me up when it comes to supporting YOU.

Part of being the owner and admin of a mental health support and awareness page is sharing other great pages of the same nature. We want our followers to have the best support, links to the very best and newest information regarding mental illness and treatments, and also “meet” other advocates as well as admins that are dedicated to helping people live well with their illnesses. A lot of us also refer our followers to organizations that can possibly help them out regarding support systems for their family members, help them with their disability claims, and even get them help finding shelters for themselves and their children if need be.

We spend a lot of time trying really damn hard to share our own stories in the hope that it will take the shame away from people who still feel that way when it comes to being diagnosed. One of the most amazing places you will find these stories is at Stigma Fighters a non-profit (status pending) and their other franchises. We try to educate people on the facts about mental illness by throwing out personal stories and the latest stats on how many people are truly affected by things such as depression, OCD, Personality Disorders, Mood Disorders, and everything in between. Can you believe that there are still people out there who think mental illness is made up? No wonder 762 Canadian Youth die by suicide each year. That stat comes to you from the amazing Canadian non-profit Partners For Mental Health.

Collectively we as admins have an amazing system that has helped so many people find the support and treatment that they need. We have referred people to crisis centers and even had health and welfare checks sent to people’s homes. A few of us Admins, and our group moderators, have a system in place for when someone is in crisis and chooses to contact one of us rather than someone close to them. We care about you and while we can’t always be there 24/7 we have done our best to put systems in place to cover what we can.

With all of these amazing advocates and non profits like the ones I mentioned above all working together, we also sometimes run into those that really don’t seem too inclined to actually help people. It’s a sad fact that on a regular basis I have other admins from pages that I refuse to share, because the content is solely focused on selling their latest book under the guise of being a mental health awareness page, asking me to “pimp” their next new book out there, while not actually doing anything to advocate for mental illness. In their eyes, the only kind of contribution to awareness and ending stigma is that new book, and kudos to them for writing it, I wish them a bestseller, but I also hope it helps someone too, because somewhere along the lines of them hustling said book, they forgot about the people who have been counting on them. Don’t call yourself an advocate if you refuse to be one. I’ll push your book for you, I have no problem doing that, but in the miss-quoted words of Judge Judy, “Don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining.” You can be both things, Shit you can be fifteen different things, but lets clarify that you actually have to do something requiring you to advocate for people to call yourself an advocate. It just is that way.

All I’m saying is, don’t turn your advocacy page where people are counting on you to continue posting relevant info into your new author page and keep it titled as your MH page, start a new page for that, and I’ll be happy to share that too. I want you to succeed in all that you do.  And if you no longer wish to focus on your MH page, that’s your choice too, but don’t you dare tell me that I’m not an advocate because I haven’t written a book, won an award, or been featured on The Huffington Post. And for the love of all that is Holy, STOP dropping names. I don’t care if your new best friend founded an amazing organization or wrote a best-selling book, it doesn’t make what you have done any less or any better. That’s all on you. You make your own success or failure. And that’s about all I’ve got to say about that.