This post is a hierarchy of mental health advocacy that I created based on my priorities, development, growth and commitment. I am not at a certain level. I find that I move back and forth through the different phases. This document is a work in progress; it is a living document that I am creating to help me grow as an advocate. Because it is a living document, and I am going to be updating it, feel free to leave comments with information I may have left out or anything that may be helpful to grow this idea.
- Advocacy usually begins with the focus on self.
Most people would agree that writing can be therapeutic. There are many blogs and online journals that people write in an attempt to work through their issues. These blogs or journals can also help educate people about the diagnosis the writer is living with, and they can build up a community of people who suffer from the same illness or loved ones who care about someone with the same illness. But primarily these blogs are focused on the writer’s life and thoughts.
- The advocate then starts to branch out.
Then there are blogs and online journals that the writer’s goal is to educate. On these blogs, you will find more links to research, news, and things that are happening that go beyond the life and mind of the writer.
- The advocate stretches their reach even further.
Then there are writers who blog, write articles, guest posts, do interviews, etc. to spread their influence and further their reach with the hope of educating more and more people.
- The advocate becomes interested in national issues regarding mental health.
Then there are people who contact their elected officials and make their voice and opinion known about policies that directly relate to mental health. These people may make regular calls to the offices of their representatives. They may also start online petitions and try to get other people engaged in changing everything from treatment to stigma.
- The final stage is service to others.
Then there is service; getting completely outside of one’s experience to reach out and help others. This service might be starting a non-profit, volunteering at NAMI, helping the homeless, etc.