I started my own Mental Health Advocacy in 2003 in Sarasota, Florida (more about my history below). Peers ask me what do “they have do to become and mental health advocate?” I would normally answer them: be willing to “talk about your story and experience with a focus on the positive.” Doing this is the first step toward advocating for mental health. It starts with YOU! Your story is the foundation to building a solid platform for advocacy.
Are you a peer in recovery and want to become a Mental Health Advocate for yourself and to help others? Or a caregiver or loved one that wants to get involved in making a difference in the mental health community here in your local area or here in Charlotte County?… Then this special Charlotte Behavioral Health Care Event will be the perfect jump start or refresher training focused on the consumer level.
“The three-day Leadership Academy is an educational program for individuals who are eager to strengthen their leadership, networking, and advocacy skills. It focuses on creating system and community change through collective self-determination, which exemplifies empowerment.” ~ Suncocast Region Leadership Academy
“We are so pleased to be partnering with CBHC in order to bring the Academy to Charlotte County. Everyone will go home with a set of practical tools to become better, more effective advocates….peers, family members, friends, and providers…..we are all in this together and are all working to improve mental health services in our own communities and in the State of Florida!”
Michael is right. We can’t PASS THIS UP. I then made sure to ask him for “Florida Leadership Academy- Participant Application” Michael@namicollier.org before I hung up the phone. Why? The information and techniques that will be going over are priceless for a mental health advocate. Here is a sample of them:
- How to become a better mental health advocate
- Improve communication skills
- The “etiquette of advocacy”
- To lead and build consensus
- Developing Clear Goals and Action Plans
- Funding Sources and Strategies
I started my Mental Health Advocacy on my own in 2003 in Sarasota, Florida At that time, there were no peer-to-peer support groups for Bipolar Disorder. I needed more help then what I was getting with my newly diagnosed “illness”… I was going to a weekly group at my provider led by a psych student. No one was making any progress or staying in the group except 4 of us die hards/core peers that would show up early and hold our own micro peer to peer group. The psych student would switch every 3 months, so you would have to re-hash your life story with each new student 4 times a year…Even if we got a good student and some progress… we would have to start all over again. Needless to say, this was not a productive group, but it did lead me and another member getting involved with the national organization and creating the Depression Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA Sarasota Chapter). We talked to Doctors hospital and they allowed us the use of a meeting room Monday nights. We helped hundreds in the community… helping our peers by having a safe place to go and talk about mental health issues. And we helped other advocates…We learned from each other, and we helped each other. There is a special bond you make as an advocate that lasts a lifetime.I had a rocky start because I was never sure if what I was doing was right. I started a peer-to-peer group on my own, then convinced someone from my weekly group to help me. I had one person tell me “I was just manic” and this idea that I would help tens of thousands of peers was just a part of my mania. Okay, don’t be judgmental at that undisclosed “person” for their statement. It is valid, if we are going to help others, we first have to make sure we are not in need of help. I am fine, my Mental Health Advocacy work with my cartoons and blog, and newsletter, and newspapers have reached about 200,000 people a year world-wide. That is a very low estimate, too.