Slowly But Surely, My Advocacy Work Continues

Most people’s minds, including my own, are on the elections. I’ve been thinking a bit about what the results mean for the future of mental healthcare reform. I’m reminded every day of the inhumane consequences created by my mom not having access to adequate psychiatric treatment. How could I not think about it?

Today, it was at a visit with the neurologist. My mom started crying during a memory test, because she couldn’t answer some of the questions. She doesn’t understand the nature or full extent of her health problems, but she knows she is being unjustly deprived of a better quality of life. So, despite whatever happens politically in our country, I’m in it for the long run. No person, no family, deserves to be so ignored, neglected and abused.

Slowly but surely, I’ve been gaining more attention to my blog and family’s story. Part of this has been done by contacting other bloggers, advocates and advocacy organizations. While I’ve gained support and interest through Facebook and Twitter, I’ve definitely garnered most of my attention through promotion at other blogs and, more recently, joining an actual campaign.

earleyautoI was fortunate enough to have one of my blog posts promoted by well-known mental health advocate and writer Pete Earley. Pete has written a number of books, including two on mental illness. His book, Crazy: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness, is based on his own experience with trying to get psychiatric treatment for his son. I had actually read the book some years ago when I first started trying to get help for my mom. It truly is a fascinating read and remains one of the most valuable resources I’ve come across in learning what my family and I are up against. Pete was also very warm through our communication. He even sent me an autographed copy of his book Crazy. I’d encourage anyone interested in mental health reform to read the book and subscribe to his blog: http://www.peteearley.com/blog/

I also had a blog post promoted by the Treatment Advocacy Center, an organization that specifically focuses on the lack of treatment and programs for those with serious mental illness. More recently, they asked me if I’d participate in a campaign to raise awareness for the need for more psychiatric hospital beds. It wasn’t too difficult a decision for me. I had some concerns about what kind(s) of actual policies, if any, this may lead to them pushing for. I wouldn’t want my family’s story to be used for something I wouldn’t agree with. I figured I could always decide to stop participating, though, down the road if need be. The campaign #ABedInstead was launched last month and I’m happy to be a part of it: http://www.treatmentadvocacycenter.org/what-you-can-do/a-bed-instead

commentsI was quite surprised, actually, by the amount of support and interest my family’s story generated, on Facebook in particular. It received more than 1000 “reactions”, 167 shares and almost 100 comments. The comments provided me with helpful feedback. Overwhelmingly, the comments were religious in content and highly supportive. My mom’s illness takes very religious and cultural forms. Indeed, she has always been a devout Christian. This response definitely makes me think I should touch on more of the religious aspect of her life, and religion and mental illness as a subject matter. It’d be challenging, but it’s worth the try.

Other things I may do is start a YouTube channel where I talk about being an advocate and caregiver for my mother. I might even try writing a book or two. Those articles I’ve been meaning to write on racial/ethnic and class disparity in mental healthcare definitely need to get done first, though.

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