One voice can make a difference. However, 100,000+ voices could make so much more of an impact. If you don’t want to read this whole article, please skip to “LET’S Unite and MAKE A DIFFERENCE” at the end of the article.
There are so many people out there who have Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites and they claim to be advocates. However, I have to wonder how much they are doing to help educate others and help to raise the stigma/discrimination that people with mental illnesses endure. Are they raising awareness in an efficient way? My answer is yes, each advocate is making a difference in their own way, but wouldn’t be better if all the advocates were working on one goal. Let’s unite and have a voice that makes a huge impact.
WHY I AM WRITING THIS BLOG?
The reason I am writing this blog entry is because I recently wrote to one organization asking if they would want to start a campaign where people encouraging others to raise awareness and erase stigma by changing their profile picture.. The answer I got was disturbing as they wouldn’t even consider it. Then, I contacted another organization to be told they didn’t want to be a part of it as it was the other organization’s idea and campaign. How silly is that? Both organizations have very similar purposes and can’t unite and do something that would really take off on with social media. The other reason is I spoke with someone who represents my Senator today. He said that for our voices to be heard we need numbers in order to reach the Senate floor.
STATISTICS of How Many Advocates are Out There
I am going to now show you how we ALL can UNITE and make a difference. This includes all advocates, being huge organizations and/or advocates with a small following. This also includes people with influence (ex. athletes, politicians, musicians, actors, etc.) First, let me share some statistics with you. I do realize that some overlap, however, I strongly think if all people and organizations unite the phrase “there is power in numbers” will prove true.
- NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) now has 72,288 likes on FB and 20,617 followers on Twitter.
- MHA (Mental Health America) has 18,296 likes on FB and 16,256 followers on Twitter
- BringChange2Mind has has 31,184 likes on FB 7,464 followers on Twitter
- Healthy Place has 10,448 likes on FB and 38,013 followers on Twitter
- No Stigmas has 1,492 likes on FB and 7, 647 followers on Twitter
- These are just some of the more popular ones as far as organizations go. There are also individual pages with even more followers and likes than these organizations. Pinterest boards have been set up too with a lot of valuable information.
Although I know some people are following and/or liked more than one organization or individual page, the numbers of advocates out there could make a difference if we UNITE. If you just add up these organizations there are this many people with voices: 68,708 on FB and 71,447 with a total of 140,115
What Can You Do?
- Join an Advocacy group on Facebook (closed, but you can request to join)and share your thoughts on ideas on what is happening regarding stigma, discrimination, education, and to raising awareness. Unfortunately, so many times, mental illness gets a bad rap as the only time the media talks about it is when a tragedy happens and it is blamed on a mental illness. The media does not include all people with mental illnesses are not violent and they certainly don’t say this is how you can get help if you need it or let people know it is ok to have a mental illness. This just makes the stigma worse. I am not saying no media focuses on the negative as some things are shared w
- Follow mental health FB and Twitter pages. For a list of several FB pages click here.
- We recommend that you like Mental Health Advocates United: Facebook Twitter
- Write to your representatives in Congress or thank a person with influence for coming out about their illness.
- Reach out to someone you know has a mental illness to let them know you care.
- Start a petition.
My passion for many years is to better the lives of those who are influenced by mental illness (MI) and to raise awareness that not all people with a MI are bad people. People need to know that they can get help without being judged. This is only going to happen if people are educated and made aware of MI and how it impacts them and the stigma does not prevent them from getting help or telling people. 1 in 4 people will be affected by MI in their lifetime. That means everyone should know someone is mentally ill. You may not know as they could be hiding it, but think about it. It could be you, a loved one, a friend. Why should they have to be quiet about it just because MI is so stigmatized?
LET’S Unite and MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Embrace Life Day is an example how a community in Winston Salem brought several organizations together to educate, raise awareness, erase stigma, offer hope and recovery for those who have mental illnesses and provide resources. Everything at the event is free including food, raffles, entertainment, games/prizes, inflatables and more. Last year they had a soldier from The Wounded Warrior Project speak about his struggles with depression, alcoholism, PTSD and a suicide attempt.
If you are interested in having something similar in your community, email me at MichelleLandeHughes@gmail.com