Why Are We Mental Health Advocates?

I ran across this story on FB the other day (http://www.lifebuzz.com/old-scrapbook/#!9tgAe) about a man, Sir Nicholas Winton, who saved 669 children during the holocaust.  He never mentioned it to anyone, except to maybe a handful of people, including his wife.  He didn’t feel it was necessary.  He did what he did and it was done.  A true hero.  

You may be wondering why I bring up this story.  It’s not particularly related to mental health, but in some way it is.  Those of us that advocate for mental health have our own personal reasons for becoming advocates.  Maybe we live with a mental illness, maybe we loss someone to mental illness, maybe we’re just sick and tired of the disparity between the care of physical and mental illnesses.  Whatever our reasons, we all have the common passion to set things right.  The one difference I see here is that most of often we write or talk about advocacy experiences (myself included).  We tend to wear it as a badge of honor, calling ourselves MH warriors or the like.  Is that right?  I hate to use the word “should”, but I’m going to.  Should we be more like Sir Nicholas and just do the job and not worry about whether or not we are recognized for it?

So it all comes down to the real question of “why” we do this.  Obviously, the situation with Sir Nicholas and Mental Health Advocacy is vastly different.  I often worry that by writing about or talking about my advocacy experiences that I’m trying to get some kind accolade, but I don’t think that’s the case (and I really don’t think that is case for many of us).  In the case of Mental Health Advocacy, the more people that here about what you’re doing will hopefully inspire more people to do the same.  At least that’s why I mention it to people.  I want to be that driving force that tells people to get out of their comfort zone and do something (good).  So, every time I write a blog post, I grapple with these self serving thoughts.  It’s not my intention to be self serving.  I do genuinely want to help others and help shape legislation…to make a difference.  I just hope the good that I am able to achieve is somewhere in the ballpark of Sir Nicholas.  He’s a very inspirational man.  

So remember: Be kind to yourselves and know you can make a difference.

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