Some of the ideas and concepts brought about by the iconic American philosopher, William James, were first adopted by the Oxford Group and subsequent 12-Step programs. But, his words still echo throughout the recovery realm today. James once famously said, “The community stagnates without the impulse of the individual. The impulse dies away without the sympathy of the community.” This is the cyclic nature of community healing. This is why we advocate for mental health. In advocating for an individual, we are also advocating for everyone else.
The Importance of Being an Advocate for Mental Health
Advocating for others is one of the most noble actions we have the opportunity to do. This advocacy may present itself in simple ways such as putting a good word in for someone at the office. But, it can also come up in much more serious matters. This includes advocating for issues of addiction and mental health.
Many people may feel apprehensive about advocating for mental health because they feel like they don’t know enough about the subject or they don’t have any personal experience. They may feel like they are “on the outside looking in.” But, this is simply not true. Anyone can be an advocate for mental health. The first step to take is to simply reach out.
How to Advocate for Mental Health
There are many effective resources available for those looking to advocate for mental health. This is especially true in the online age we find ourselves in. Many of these resources are online, such as where to connect others to 12-Step meetings and reputable recovery centers.
Additionally, many in-person spaces are always looking for individuals to help support people in the community who are struggling with issues of addiction and mental health. Further, some things can specifically be done for family members, friends, and close loved ones that need some advocacy. This includes creating a safe space free of potential triggers.
#1. Creating a Safe Space for Loved Ones in Recovery
While it may not seem integral to some, for people in recovery, safe spaces can be critical. This is especially true for individuals who are new in recovery or struggle with chronic relapsing. The good news is that it is not that difficult to create a safe space. Here are just a few ways to make a space more comfortable and safe for those in recovery:
- Remove any alcohol or substances when people in recovery are around as they may be triggering
- Have numbers or emails accessible to professional recovery specialists
- Keep numbers on hand of other people in recovery
- Make a “safe space” list of conduct and stick to it, such as “yelling will not be tolerated”
- Ensure that the space is wholly inclusive and that everyone knows it
#2. Celebrating Recovery Milestones
A big way to show individuals in recovery that you care and that you “see them,” is by celebrating milestones. A milestone may be a “sober birthday” (which is usually the anniversary of the last time an individual took a drink or used a substance). Other milestones include:
- The day someone transitions from one stage of recovery to the next
- When someone both enters and leaves a recovery residence
- If someone has a breakthrough in therapy
- When someone finishes the twelve steps of their particular program of choice
#3. Connecting to Community Outreach Centers
As previously mentioned, many community outreach centers offer great opportunities to advocate for mental health. For those struggling to find ones near them, reaching out to recovery centers, local clinics, religious institutions, and unhoused shelters can be a great way to get in contact with one.
There are also many types of community outreach centers. Among others, there are ones that focus on specific populations such as Veterans or the LGBTQ+ community. There are also community outreach centers that focus on what is known as “harm reduction.” These centers can help ensure that people are less likely to overdose while also offering them information on where to go when they are ready to seek help.
#4. Eliminating Stigma
One of the biggest ways to advocate for mental health is also one of the simplest and most accessible. This includes speaking up when someone is spreading misinformation or hurtful messages regarding mental health and addiction.
Now, this does not mean that we should be aggressive. In fact, many people spread misinformation because they too are uninformed. This gives us an opportunity to be the arbiters of positive information. Remember, when we change someone’s negative view on mental health, it can have a positive ripple effect that is bigger than we may ever know.
#5. Reaching Out to Reputable Recovery Centers Like the Phoenix Recovery Center
Lastly, reaching out to a recovery center can be another valuable way to advocate for mental health, specifically mental health treatment. Learning to seek out guidance and support for yourself or others in healing is crucial for well-being.
William James also once famously said, “This life is worth living, we can say, since it is what we make it.” That is what we do when we advocate for mental health and addiction. We ultimately make everyone’s life a little better, and making lives better is what we do here at The Phoenix Recovery Center. It is our primary purpose.
If you have a loved one that you feel may be struggling with issues of addiction and/or mental health you can be an advocate for them by reaching out to us at The Phoenix Recovery Center. For more information on mental health and/or addiction treatment, please call us today at (801) 438-3185.