Advocate for Mental Health Care Improvements for Your Child
Parents can advocate for mental health care improvements for our children with mental illness and we're in a unique position to do so. As we travel through America’s broken mental healthcare system, our voices can help shine a light on problems and advocate for mental health care changes that would help our children in their quest for mental stability.
Advocate for Mental Health Care Because Problems Are All-Too-Common
One way I advocate for mental health care for my kids is by belonging to a support group for caregivers of people with mental illness. Most of us are moms of kids who suffer from a serious mental illness. These are intelligent, informed, motivated women who spend a good portion of their lives fighting the American mental healthcare system as they advocate for their children.
But the stories are horrific. From law enforcement not trained to deal with the mentally ill to a lack of hospital beds to frequent dismissals of truly ill patients seeking care, the issues faced daily by parents of mentally ill children can be enormously challenging.
Because our stories all sounded like the same dire tale of inadequate or non-existent mental health care, one of our members contacted the local newspaper and arranged an interview of the group by the reporter in charge of health. As story after story unfolded, both his shock and interest were piqued by the situation. He confessed that he knew there were problems but had no idea that the problems were so profound or pervasive.
But then, something clicked and our voices were heard. In addition to writing a feature on the plight of mental health services in our community, this reporter began to discuss politicians he knew who would take on our issues. He suggested local mental health advocates with whom we could coordinate our efforts to look at bed counts and access to care. And suddenly, our advocacy began to take on the positive impact of an action.
How to Advocate for Mental Health Care Improvements
So, what can individual parents do to advocate for mental health care improvements their children deserve?
Write letters to the editor. When bad (or good) things happen, tell the world. Most newspapers accept letters to the editor on topics vital to the community. Spotlight mental health issues in your community by writing about your experiences.
Contact your government representatives. Your local assemblyperson or state senators are your first contacts to address issues of bed shortages or inadequate local facilities. Many new politicians are looking for causes that set them apart. Help them make mental health be that cause.
Band together for support. My support group has been a godsend to me. The combined knowledge of the group has helped me find qualified doctors, taught me about resources I was unaware of, and guided me as I advocate for mental health care improvements for my children. Check your local National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) group for contacts with any local support groups and join. Then, together, you can pool your resources to make a difference for your loved ones.
Margaret Mead once said,
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
So, let’s go out and do it.
Traugh, S. (2018, May 18). Advocate for Mental Health Care Improvements for Your Child, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, March 4 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/parentingchildwithmentalillness/2018/5/advocating-better-mental-healthcare
Author: Susan Traugh