Being Your Own Mental Health Advocate
Whether you seek treatment for addiction or a mental illness, it is crucial to be your own advocate. Advocating for yourself encourages your growth and progress, it ensures your health and well-being.
Yes, doctors have knowledge and degrees, but you know what is best for you. Advocating for yourself is also about asking for help when you don’t have the answers. You may need to fight the stigma surrounding mental illness and addiction, stand up for yourself, or demand respect to get the care you need and deserve.
The Importance of Advocating for Your Mental Health
When you put your care in someone else’s hands, you trust them with your well-being. As well-meaning and capable as many healthcare professionals are, you want to ensure you are heard and understood.
Even the most educated healthcare professionals may misunderstand you or assume what you need if you don’t advocate for yourself. Unfortunately, it can be challenging to speak up for yourself when struggling with addiction or mental health issues.
When struggling with anxiety, depression, or other mental illnesses like bipolar disorder, you may struggle with low self-esteem. Even asking for help may feel overwhelming, so going above and beyond can feel impossible. However, building up that self-esteem is part of improving your mental well-being, whether through therapy or addiction treatment. You deserve the best care. To do that, you may need to question others and educate yourself.
Educating yourself is a crucial part of being your advocate. Research your diagnosis if you’ve been diagnosed with a mental illness or substance use disorder (SUD). Learn about your options so that you don’t take the first suggestion and run with it. Treatments for addiction and mental illnesses are not one size fits all, so it is essential to know your options.
The more you learn about your mental illness or addiction, the more questions you’ll be able to ask. Developing relationships with others in your situation can also open your eyes to things you may not find in your research. Speaking with peer support groups in person or online can offer you another perspective or even guidance on how to be your mental health advocate.
How to Speak Up for Yourself
For someone struggling with their mental health, speaking up for yourself can be intimidating. A healthcare provider is essentially a person of authority, so questioning them can be scary.
Some ways to take charge of your healthcare include:
Expressing Your Needs
You may want to be pleasing and avoid conflict, but your needs are the priority, and they should be for anyone on your care team. Express what you need help with and if that is ignored, repeat yourself. You shouldn’t have to compromise on your care.
Not only are you fighting for your health but also your comfort. If there is a part of an exam or therapy session you are uncomfortable with, speak up. Whether something relates to trauma, your religion, your pronouns, or your identity, share that and correct those who are misinformed.
Knowing Your Options
Once again, educating yourself is crucial for being your advocate. If you’ve read about a medication or other option, it cannot hurt to ask for more information. If something isn’t working, share that you’d like to try something else.
If you feel too anxious or uncomfortable to speak up for yourself in front of a healthcare professional, find a loved one you trust to be included in your care. It can be a partner, sibling, parent, or even friend. Giving them access to your information and even bringing them to appointments can calm your nerves. Not only will they speak up for you and ask questions on your behalf, but their presence and support can also encourage you to do so.
How to Be Your Own Mental Health Advocate
Advocating for your mental health may start with you and your care provider, but it goes beyond that. Not only should you be forward with your desires for treatment, but you should always have a say. Having a support team is helpful in that they will encourage you to take action. They will hear you out and help you research. They have your best interest at heart so relying on them is easy.
It is important to play a role in all decisions regarding your health. Stay informed. Ask your doctor why they made a certain choice about your treatment. Ask about any medications you’re on. Your treatment should always be a team effort. You and your care provider should be working together to figure out the right steps for you.
Beyond your care, mental health and addiction are still often stigmatized. Working within the community can encourage the public to be more accepting and influence institutions to make changes. As you work with peer groups to help your recovery journey, you gain a deeper understanding of experiences. You may learn new things or see things from another perspective. Being around others with related challenges can promote your growth as well.
These groups can also be a wonderful way to get involved in social advocacy. Speaking up in support of making mental healthcare a bigger priority and fighting the stigma can empower you through your journey and make a difference for all.
Receiving care for your mental health or addiction can be overwhelming. If you struggle to stand up for yourself when seeking treatment, you could be struggling for longer than necessary. Being clear about what you need is an essential aspect of getting help. California Care Detox & Treatment offers individualized care plans for addiction treatment and mental health care. We prioritize your needs and comforts within our program. We encourage you to advocate for yourself and have your family included in your progress to ensure you feel heard and understood. This makes your journey of recovery feel more like an accomplishment. We will work with you to ensure your treatment is effective and comfortable. You can reach out to us now to learn more about how we put you first. Call us at (949) 281-0632 for guidance and encouragement on your treatment journey.