The emergence of mental health advocacy movements in several countries has helped to change society’s perceptions of persons with mental disorders. Individuals have begun to articulate their own visions of the services they need. They are increasingly able to make informed decisions about treatment and other matters in their daily lives. Individual and family participation in advocacy organizations may also have several positive outcomes.
Roles of different groups in advocacy
Individuals and families
Opinions vary among Individuals and their organizations about how best to achieve their goals. Some groups want active cooperation and collaboration with general health and mental health services, here as others desire complete separation from them. Individuals groups can play various roles in advocacy, ranging from influencing policies and legislation to providing help for people with mental disorders. Individuals have sensitized the general public about their cause and provided education and support to people with mental disorders. They have denounced some forms of treatment that are believed to be negative. They have denounced poor service delivery, inaccessible care and involuntary treatment. Individuals can also struggle for improved legal rights and the protection of existing rights. Programs run by Individuals concern drop-in centers, case management, crisis services and outreach. The roles of families in advocacy overlap with many of the areas taken on by Individuals. However, families have the distinctive role of caring for persons with mental disorders. In many places they are the primary care providers and their organizations are fundamental as support networks. In addition to providing mutual support and services, many family groups have become advocates, educating the community, increasing the support obtained from policy-makers, denouncing stigma and discrimination, and fighting for improved services.
These organizations may be professional, involving only mental health professionals, or interdisciplinary, involving people from diverse areas. In some nongovernmental organizations, mental health professionals work with persons who have mental disorders, their families and other concerned individuals. Nongovernmental organizations fulfill many of the advocacy roles described for Individuals and families. Their distinctive contribution to the advocacy movement is that they support and empower Individuals and families with trainings and tools to push for better mental health care
General health workers and mental health workers
In places where care has been shifted from psychiatric hospitals to community services, mental health workers have taken a more active role in protecting Individuals rights and raising awareness for improved services. In traditional general health and mental health facilities it is not unusual that workers feel empathy for persons with mental disorders and become advocates for them over some issues. Some specific advocacy roles for mental health workers relate to:
- clinical work from a Individuals and family perspective;
- participation in the activities of Individuals and family groups;
- supporting the development of Individuals groups and family groups;
- planning and evaluating programs together.
Policy-makers and planners
Ministries of health and specifically their mental health sections, can play an important role in advocacy. Ministries of health may implement advocacy actions directly so as to influence the mental health of populations in general or consumers’ civil and health rights in particular. They may achieve similar or complementary impacts on these populations by working indirectly through supporting advocacy groups (consumers, families, nongovernmental organizations, mental health workers). Additionally, it is necessary for each ministry of health to convince other policy-makers and planners, e.g. the executive branch of government, the ministry of finance and other ministries, the judiciary, the legislature and political parties, to focus on and invest in mental health.
How ministries of health can support advocacy
By supporting advocacy activities with Individuals groups, family groups and non-governmental organizations Governments can provide these organizations with the support required for their development and empowerment. This support should not be accompanied by conditions that would prevent occasional criticism of the government. The empowerment of Individuals and families mean that they are given power, authority and a sense of capacity and ability. Principal steps for supporting Individuals groups, family groups and nongovernmental Organizations
The implementation of some of the ideas presented in this module could help ministries of health to support advocacy in their countries or regions. The development of an advocacy movement could facilitate the implementation of mental health policy and legislation and populations could receive many benefits. The needs of persons with mental disorders could be better understood and their rights could be better protected. They could receive services of improved quality and could participate actively in their planning, development, monitoring and evaluation. Families could be supported in their role as cares, and populations at large could gain an improved understanding of mental health and disorders
The mandate health empowerment initiative overtime has developed and implement strategies to ensure the government take the Metal health bill with high priority. Some of our strategy include
CSOs and NGOs Round table discussion: to ensure every CSOs and NGOs that are in one way or the other related or interested in the mental health understand the main concept of the mental health bill and also understand the need to push for this bill and other mental health reform, we at Mandate health organized an Monthly meeting with all the interested individuals to discuss the Mental health bill.
Meeting with key Legislators: as part of our mandate to see that the mental health of individual is seen as priority and some key law are put in place, we usually have courtesy visits to some of the key resistor is the Health sector and in the environment sector or legislator who talk the mental health of her people. The focus of our discussion is always targeted on how we can see to the betterment of the people
Social Media Engagement: Another of our key area in letting our voice heard is using social media. We engage on weekly tweet chat where we educate people on mental health, educate people on mental health policy and also use the opportunity to reach out to the government.
We at Mandate health empowerment initiative, our goal is to build a mentally healthy sociality