While mood disorders can be debilitating, individuals with depression or bipolar disorder who are able to access quality, effective mental health care can lead full, happy, and productive lives. But accessing needed mental health services, treatments, and medications is rarely easy. Instead, people living with mood disorders and their families must be prepared to advocate for accurate diagnoses, effective treatment, and relevant services. On the broader scale, advocacy by people living with mood disorders and their families is integral to creating a health care system in which individuals can consistently access life-saving treatments and a society that offers respect and support to people with mood disorders and their families.
Self-Advocacy and Family-Advocacy
Individuals who experience mood disorders must advocate for themselves, and family members must advocate for those they love, to receive appropriate health services, along with fair treatment and respect in the doctor’s office, in the workplace, and among friends and family members. Everyone deserves a clinician and friends with whom they can communicate openly, and every such candid interaction constitutes an act of self-advocacy. A person with a mood disorder is unlikely to experience a successful course of treatment or achieve a state of wellness without honest and candid conversations with their medical providers.
Care for Your Mind focuses on public advocacy—that is, voicing one’s concerns and positions in order to affect public policy, legislation, or other government action. In the United States, individuals who participate in the process and contact their elected officials can have tremendous impact on the legislative process. Members of Congress and their staff report that personalized communications from constituents are the single most important factor in their decision-making process—yet only a small fraction of Americans reach out to communicate with their elected officials each year.
While the media tend to cover the most controversial and major issues of the day, the bulk of Congress’ work each week addresses hundreds of issues that affect smaller segments of the American population. Care for Your Mind is here to educate you about ongoing health reform issues so that you can help influence decision-makers to ensure your rights to mental health care. You can make a difference in shaping the future of mental health care and building a solution that works.