HOW BEING A MENTAL HEALTH ADVOCATE HAS CHANGED MY LIFE

Before I became a vocal advocate, I was sympathetic to, but not invested in, the cause. Since posting mental health articles and quotes on social media and discussing how mental health has affected my family in public, my conversations with people have changed completely.
  1. I have been trained as a peer coach.
    One of the best decisions and experiences I've made/had in college. An absolutely eye-opening look into what the therapist's point of view is, the importance of being able to hold a conversation about mental health, and various techniques to support those in need. I wish all managers had to take a mini-version of this training. It's essential in the workplace. I've also made a new group of friends, each one passionate about the importance of this cause.
  2. I have mental health checks with my peers.
    Whether I am concerned about them or they have reached out to me, I meet up with people just to see how they're doing. Sometimes, you just need someone to listen.
  3. The way I talk to people has changed.
    My conversational tactics are less interrogative and questioning and more reflective. I'm applying my training to my daily conversations without even realizing it.
  4. Sometimes, I get odd looks and silence.
    People don't know what to do with the casual way I discuss therapy, suicide, and mental illness as a whole. Some have no idea what to say and become uncomfortable. I don't mind because these are typically the people that need to hear it the most.
  5. People ask me about how they can help their friends with depression.
    This is why it's so important to reach out to the community and educate people on how to have effective conversations about mental health.
  6. I get a rare glimpse into other people's worlds.
    After I discuss my stance on mental illness, suddenly, stories start pouring out of people's mouths. These can range from their relationship with their parents to their financial situation at home. People feel comfortable discussing serious subject matter that they do not share with others because they are mirroring my actions with my storytelling.
  7. People talk to me about their history with mental health.
    Whether it's an issue they're currently dealing with or something they've dealt with in the past, people share this information with me openly with confidence that I will understand and not talk about it with others.
  8. People thank me.
    All the time. For making sure people know that mental illnesses are real, for trying to spread positivity, and for encouraging conversation about mental health.