Mental Health Awareness: Why We Should Advocate for Mental Health

Why We Should Advocate For Mental Health
Why We Should Advocate for Mental Health

Mental health is integral to both physical and psychological wellbeing. Rather than the absence of mental illness, mental health is cognitive stability that contributes to daily function and wellbeing. Mental health is the foundation upon which we act, think, and feel. It protects against stress, life challenges, protects against physical illness, and helps us in social interaction. Mental health matters and the only way to promote its importance is through awareness, which is why we should advocate for mental health.

Mental Health in India

In recent years, mental health in India has transitioned from a hushed topic to a matter of enormous concern. The prevalence of mental health in the country has risen, with statistics estimating almost 70 million people suffer from mental problems in the country. According to statistics released by the World Health Organization, the average suicide rate in India is 10.9 for every lakh people, with India being regarded as the suicide capital of the world.

What is even more alarming is the stigmatization of mental health in India, leading to treatment delays and underreporting of cases. Often, this leads to people suffering in silence, resulting in a high mortality rate in the absence of care and medication. By shedding light on this crucial aspect of wellbeing, we can foster a more compassionate, understanding, and supportive environment for everyone.

Understanding the Importance of Mental Health

Mental health is essential at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. It is not merely the absence of mental illness, but encompasses our social, mental, and physical wellbeing. Sound mental health helps an individual realize their abilities, cope with everyday life stressors, work productively, and contribute to their community. Some of the more critical aspects of good mental health are:

  • Helps cope with stressors
  • Be physically healthy
  • Helps in social interaction
  • Have good relationships
  • Make meaningful contributions to the community
  • Professional productivity
  • Unlock our potential

The Impact of Poor Mental Health

Poor mental health exerts a negative influence, leading to detrimental effects on our daily lives, relationships, and physical health. This is why advocating for mental health is critical; it helps counteract the impact of poor mental health and fosters understanding of the need for support.

  • Emotional Distress
  • Physical problems
  • Addiction
  • Social withdrawal
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Low productivity
  • Poor performance at work and school
  • Low self-esteem
  • Suicidal ideation

What is Mental Health Advocacy?

Mental health advocacy is promoting the rights and needs of individuals with mental health problems. It is creating awareness and initiating social action to break down barriers to mental health, overcome stigmatization, end discrimination, and change the present infrastructure to achieve more positive mental health outcomes in communities. According to an article in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry:

The concept of mental health advocacy has been developed to promote the human rights of persons with mental disorders and to reduce stigma and discrimination. It consists of various actions to change the major structural and attitudinal barriers to achieving positive mental health outcomes in populations.”

There are several ways to be a mental health advocate. From being part of NGOs to volunteering in the community or using social resources to create awareness of mental health and addiction, every little action counts in reducing the prevalence of mental health in the country.

One can even be a mental health advocate by educating others, or helping a friend or family member suffering from mental health issues. Education, early intervention, and the development of support systems can do much to help people address their mental health issues and recover.

Why Should You Advocate for Mental Health?

  • Breaking the Stigma: Advocating for mental health breaks down the stigma associated with it, encouraging individuals to seek help. Advocacy can normalize mental health discussions, reducing shame and encouraging individuals to seek the help they need.
  • Promoting Early Intervention: Awareness campaigns, early detection, and treatment of mental health issues can identify cases in early stages, thus improving outcomes and garnering support.
  • Improving Access to Care: Advocacy can improve access to mental health services by advocating for policy changes, increasing funding, and developing more mental health programs and resources.
  • Education and Awareness: These are vital to understanding mental health. Education and awareness helps communities recognize and support those who may be struggling.
  • Supporting Recovery: Advocacy promotes the idea that recovery is possible and that people with mental health issues can be treated and lead fulfilling lives.
  • It Promotes Holistic Health: Advocating for mental health encourages a holistic approach to health care that considers physical and psychological wellbeing.
  • Builds Stronger Communities: Prioritizing mental health among communities encourages consent and support. Supportive communities can provide the necessary resources and environment for individuals to thrive.
  • Preventing Suicide: Mental health advocacy can play a crucial role in suicide prevention by providing education, support, and intervention resources to those at risk.
  • Empowering Individuals: Advocacy allows individuals to take control of their mental health by providing them with the knowledge and resources to seek help and support others.

5 Ways to Be a Mental Health Advocate

You do not need to be a degree holder, a medical professional, or a licensed therapist to advocate for mental health. Mental health advocacy aims to spread awareness in your family or the community. Here are five ways to advocate for mental health.

Use Social Media

You can advocate for mental health by building a social media presence focused on mental health issues. Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are helpful means of leveraging short posts for reach and visibility. Use infographics, banners, and even inspirational words to engage your audience. You can also create a free blog on platforms like Eblogger, Wix, and Linkedin, where you can post articles and ask friends to share them on social media.

Share Mental Health Media

If you don’t have time to write or create content, you can share media from other websites and platforms on your social accounts. Articles such as this one help you promote the importance of mental health advocacy in India.

Get Involved

Volunteering in community events related to mental health and NGOs is a good way to show your support as a mental health advocate. Several organizations, like the Mental Health Foundation (India), require volunteers in various capacities to promote mental health in India.

Write Blogs for a Mental Health Website

If you’re into blog writing, contributing articles to psychology and mental health websites is an excellent way to communicate your message. Contributing to already-established blogs will help you gain reach faster.

Educate Others

Educate your family, friends, and your community about mental health, especially where there is a stigma present. Speak up for mental health, neutralizing arguments that attribute negative characteristics to those with mental disorders. Knowledge is power, and spreading it in casual conversation makes you a star advocate.

Advocating for mental health is not just about helping those with mental illness; it’s about fostering a society that values and supports the mental wellbeing of all its members. By understanding mental health, recognizing its importance, and advocating for greater awareness and resources, we can make a substantial difference in the lives of many. It’s time to break the silence, challenge the stigma, and create a world where mental health is given the attention it deserves.