Awareness of the truth about mental illnesses is a first step in learning to come alongside those whose lives are impacted by them. Although understanding and acceptance of these conditions are growing, much progress is required before those dealing with serious mental health challenges are met with support and friendship rather than fear. Below are six ways you can become an advocate for those living with mental illnesses by being able to help others gain awareness.
Approximately one in five adults experiences a mental illness over the course of a year.[i] With those odds, you can be sure that nearly everyone knows someone who has struggled with a mental health difficulty or has lived with such challenges themselves. But, far fewer of us speak openly about these experiences. Even though a person is more likely to face a mental illness during their lifetime than heart disease, diabetes or cancer,[ii] our society talks more freely about these less-common health conditions.
Making mental health and illnesses that impact the brain a part of everyday conversation raises awareness of them. Sharing about your own mental health struggles or those of a loved one can help to normalize mental health challenges as common and helps to reduce shame and stigma.
Helping others increase their awareness of mental health challenges and the individuals who live with them can be as simple as passing along a link to an online resource or sharing it on social media. The Well’s blog includes a steady stream of pieces on mental illnesses and how they impact individuals and communities, and we frequently share links to articles on mental health on our Facebook and Twitter pages. In addition, organizations such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and Mental Health America provide a wide range of articles and tools designed to foster understanding about mental health conditions.
Few things increase awareness more than personal experience, and there are a wealth of opportunities to get involved at The Well. Plan to serve dinner at Thursday Night Life or lend a hand at a special activity for Well Community members, and invite friends, church groups or associations to join you. Or, suggest a volunteer opportunity that’s a particularly good match for your friends’ interests and gifts. From teaching life skills to simply spending time with members and listening to their stories, there’s a way to serve at The Well that’s a good fit for anyone. And, all provide a new level of awareness about serious mental illnesses and the everyday challenges faced by those who live with them.
Become Part of The Well Auxiliary
The Well Auxiliary exists to assist The Well Community and to find new means to help members prosper, and they always welcome new members to join them. Since it was founded in 2016, the auxiliary has worked to increase awareness of the needs of those struggling with serious mental illnesses and the vital role of The Well. In addition to serving as ambassadors for The Well within the larger community, auxiliary members come alongside The Well in numerous ways, including planning fundraising events, helping with holiday parties and serving meals for members of The Well.
Contact your leaders.
State legislation related to mental illness has a ripple effect in the everyday lives of those who deal with serious mental health challenges. Staying informed about bills that would impact these individuals can help you support policies that benefit those suffering from mental illnesses and can enable you to speak up on behalf of those who struggle. Signing up for NAMI Texas’ legislative alerts and newsletters can help you stay on top of bills impacting mental health in our state, and their website provides the information you need to contact your local representatives to make it known that mental health care is important to you.
Go Beyond Awareness
For Mental Health Awareness Month we are launching a campaign to raise $30,000 by May 31 for our programs and services. Please give today to make a difference in the lives of those dealing with serious mental illnesses. Your kind gifts can help:
- Keep The Well Community’s doors open for a week ($6,500)
- Provide one month of worship services ($2,500)
- Subsidize one month of housing at Jacob’s House ($1,200)
- Sponsor five members for overnight retreats ($500)
- Cover costs of 80 lunches for 40 members ($100)
- Pay for one session of case management ($50)
Click here to make an online donation through PayPal or credit card. Or send a check to The Well Community, 125 Sunset Avenue, Dallas, Texas 75208 and note “Awareness Gift.”
Without your ongoing and generous support, the hundreds of adults who depend on The Well would have no place to find support and belong. There would be no place where others are not only aware of mental illness but care about their struggles and accept them as they are.
Be sure to follow The Well Community on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to learn more about mental illnesses, how The Well provides a place of community and support, and how you can help those who struggle.