Advocacy is important. Advocating for your clients, friends, family, but most importantly, advocating for yourself. However, in my opinion, this can be the toughest form of advocacy to implement.

Self-advocacy is essentially defined as understanding and knowing what your needs are and then communicating those needs to others. It’s important because it encourages us to be more independent, as well as gain confidence in ourselves and our choices in medical care.

Now that we know why self-advocacy is important-how can you practice it?

 Here are 5 tips to remember:

  1. Believe in Yourself. In order to convince others that you are deserving of what you are asking for, you have to believe it yourself first. Know that you are worthwhile and don’t be afraid to let other people know that, as well.
  2. Know What You Want. If you want to ask for something, you will need to first know what that is (and why). If you’re not sure initially, talk to a trusted source, such as a close family member, friend or medical professional. Take time to research and know what is best for you and you alone.
  3. Ask Questions. I was always told that before a doctor’s appointment to write down any questions I may have. This not only ensures that you don’t forget them, but lets the doctor know that you are serious about your health and to address any crucial concerns. Also, make sure they don’t rush you to a point where you can’t ask your questions. While there isn’t often a lot of time allotted for appointments, your concerns and questions are valid, so make sure to voice them.
  4. Be Assertive. The purpose of self-advocacy is to speak up and express your needs so that people will listen. Focus on being confident in your words and body language, but not to the point of sounding aggressive.
  5. Don’t Give Up. There might be a chance that you won’t get exactly what you ask for the first time around, but that doesn’t mean you should give up asking. Continue to advocate for your needs and why they matter to you.

While these tips are catered towards advocating in a healthcare environment, they can really apply to any aspect of your life. No matter what you’re doing, it’s always important to research, ask questions and be aware of what you want. Now all you have to do is go for it!

Reference:

https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/tips-for-advocating-mental-health#Advocating-for-your-mental-health-might-be-difficult-but-it-doesnt-have-to-be

Staff Blogger: Mollie Clupper

Mollie Clupper is working for MHA as a Communications and Support Specialist. Using her own experiences, she wants to help bring awareness and end the stigma surrounding mental health. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, drinking coffee, and spending time with her fur-niece.