“An ally listens with the intention of understanding what the community is talking about and, also stands with you not only during your good times, but also during the difficult times -they advocate for you.” -Jonea Ahoussoussi
Okay…but what is advocacy then?
“Advocacy can look different based on who you are, and really being able to use your power, your platform, and the influence that you have to really push for change.” -Jonea Ahoussoussi
Now, what does this change look like?
Some of you are posting on social media.
Some of you are protesting in the streets.
Some of you are donating silently.
Some of you are educating yourselves.
Some are having tough conversations with friends and family.
A revolution has many lanes.
Be kind to yourself and to others who are traveling in the same direction and just keep your foot on the gas.
So that’s advocacy and allyship as a whole, but what does this look like through the lens of mental health?
Top Three Suggestions:
1. Choice of words is very important when we’re having conversations.
Terminology, body language, and tone can all play roles in how your help may be perceived. Ensuring that you’re approaching someone at where they are can do wonders in having them open up a bit.
2. Explain that you’re going to be there for them and follow through!
Laying out that you’re there to support someone through thick and thin is amazing, but it’s also important to consider what happens if you were to suddenly stop interacting with this person for a multitude of reasons… So, even though we want to help, it’s also good to self-reflect and take inventory of our own capacities and refer a friend over to a professional, if need be.
3. Some people like to just go through this journey by themselves, and others like to see mental health professionals…
Understanding that everyone processes their mental health in different ways is very important. Just because you, yourself, process one way does not mean that the same methodology will work for a friend. Sometimes, it’s helpful to preface suggestions as “I don’t know if this may help, but I found that XYZ has really helped me when…”.