Social Agent for Change

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Being a change agent for mental health is vital. Frequently, mental illness is viewed differently than physical illness however, it is important to remember that mental is health is just as important. Many people have negative perceptions related to mental health. They may be thinking, “Just get over it or stop worrying so much”. Health insurance discrimination is another issue. Often, patients fight with insurance companies to get the mental health treatment they need. If we do not recognize mental illness as physical illness, people will never get the treatment that they need. Mental illness is just as real, but sometimes they are difficult to understand. Unfortunately, the social stigma of it results from the lack of understanding (Bennett, T., 2015). Despite decades of public information campaigns costing tens of millions of dollars, Americans may be as suspicious of people with mental illness as ever. Research finds that 68 percent of Americans do not want someone with a mental illness marrying into their family and 58 percent do not want people with mental illness in their workplaces (Dingfelder, 2009).
              Breaking down this social stigma barrier is essential in providing understanding to the disease called mental illness. This is what I would want to advocate for. It is important to reach people and explain the biological causes of mental illness, placing emphasis on the fact that people can’t just “snap out of it. It is important to note that most people with mental illness can lead productive lives. Education is key. Raising awareness through community services and outreach programs are one way of achieving this. Many advocacy activities require little or no additional funding. Distribution of educational materials such as brochures, pamphlets, posters and videos are some ways of advocating. Consumer and family participation in advocacy organizations may also have several positive effects. It has been proven to decrease the duration of inpatient treatment and in the number of visits to health services (National Alliance on Mental Illness, 2019).
              Volunteering for a mental health agency such as NAMI is one thing that I am interested in doing. By joining their online group, I would hope to be able to provide support and educational services to those suffering from mental illness and the families affected by it. By sharing positive messages through online social media avenues, I could also show support and education. Mental illness has touched my family personally and so it is so very important to me to break down the walls surrounding it. I have seen my son suffer from the stigma. He and others with mental just want to lead normal productive lives. Sometimes they can and sometimes they cannot but it so important to provide encouragement and to advocate for them.
References
Bennett, T. (2015). Changing the way society understands mental health. National Alliance on Mental Illness. Retrieved from https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/April-2015/Changing-The-Way-Society-Understands-Mental-Health
Dingfelder, S.F. (2009). Stigma: Alive and well. American Psychological Association, 40(6), 56. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/monitor/2009/06/stigma

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