Mental health advocacy includes a variety of different efforts and actions aimed at changing issues around mental health. It was initially developed to reduce stigma and discrimination and to promote the human rights of persons with mental disorders.
A mental health advocate speaks out about mental health issues to help others become aware of or gain knowledge of those issues, or to draw attention to those issues to change them.
Advocacy efforts could include:
- educating people at school, work, or community about a specific topic;
- speaking on behalf of groups or organizations that practice activism;
- speaking on behalf of those who cannot or will not;
- researching a topic and sharing your findings;
- lobbying to influence public policy;
- developing a strategy to amplify an issue or provide visibility to a marginalized group;
- posting on social media;
- volunteering at information booths;
- showing up for awareness events such as walks;
- participating in other grassroots efforts.
There is no one way to be an advocate — you can find your own way to be a spokesperson for a cause close to your heart. You can be an advocate for yourself and others.
The advocacy movement had its origins in a range of organizations that set out to encourage support for vulnerable groups in society.
The early aims were to develop communities whose members were more able, competent, and willing to speak on behalf of other persons and advocate for them. This required listening to the points of view of the vulnerable groups, respecting their wishes, protecting their interests, and standing with them to defend their rights. Individuals who had been stigmatized, ignored and excluded by society were enabled to become active members of their communities (Citizen Advocacy, Information and Training, 2000).
The STARR Coalition offers Advocacy Advising Services to aid others in their own advocacy efforts. For more information and to learn more about how The STARR Coalition can help you with your advocacy efforts, visit https://thestarr.org/advocacy-advisory-consulting-services/.
The STARR Coalition is an advocacy organization formed by leaders within mental health research who wanted to do more to help those living with mental health illnesses.
Our coalition of leaders are all working to find new treatments for those living with debilitating brain disorders, but recognize that we need to also work to end the stigma surrounding mental illness and mental health research.
One way we do this is through the STARR Advocacy Board. This group’s main goal is to bring together mental health advocates from all the different mental health advocacy organizations to discuss ways we can positively impact the community, be a voice for people living with mental illness, and ensure that every available treatment option is available to them.