What Is Advocacy?
Advocacy on behalf of those suffering from severe mental illnesses and their families is an integral part of the mission of NAMI Ohio. Advocates ensure rights, reverse wrongs, provide protection and encourage a more humane and responsive system. Advocates exist because all too often the system fails those with mental illness.
Who are advocates?
Quite simply, an advocate is anyone who is passionate about an issue and cares enough to get involved on behalf of a person, concern, or cause. Advocates for persons with neurobiological brain disorders are parents, spouses, children, siblings and friends. Also, concerned citizens, volunteers, patients in recovery, teachers, attorneys and mental health professionals are often advocates.
What do advocates do?
Advocates typically plead a case on someone else’s behalf Advocates may promote causes, legislation, or policy. They investigate, educate, lobby, and seek additional funding for programs. They speak up where others can’t, or won’t.
When do advocates advocate?
Advocates act when not enough is done for the person or cause they care about, or when something occurs which demands action or response. Advocacy is a year-round process. Issues must be kept in the public eye, or they’ll be forgotten. Neurobiological brain disorders don’t go away – neither should their advocates.
Where do advocates advocate?
Anywhere decisions are made that affect the lives of persons with a neurobiological brain disorder: community mental health centers, hospitals, Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health /Community Mental Health Boards, City Hall, County Courthouse, Statehouse, Capitol Hill. An advocate must continually be in front of and within reach of those people who have the power to change things.
Legislative Advocacy Tools and Resources
The following tools will provide you guidance as NAMI Ohio calls on those impacted by mental illness to be heard during the upcoming state budget process. Legislators must be educated so that they fully understand the consequences of their decisions and their votes. It is up to families, friends and individuals who live with a psychiatric disorder to bring the message to them in a way that they understand the potential impact of any and all budget and legislative actions.
As a general rule, you need to follow these brief steps:
Believe. Your own conviction and passion toward an issue is most important when convincing others.
Know your audience. Whether you seek to convince one person or an entire community, knowing your audience enhances your chances of communicating with them instead just talking at them.
Know your issue. Do not tell your issue only from your biased perspective. Share the pros and cons of the issue, and be prepared for and knowledgeable about arguments from the opposing side. Tell them what the opponents are saying, but always end with an explanation of why your side is right.