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How to Advocate for Your Mental Health

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Mar 23, 2022

How to Advocate for Your Mental Health

Mental health care is very important to ensure queer women’s health is a priority. With the world crazier than ever, it’s often easy to overlook proper mental health care or feel ashamed of needing it. Speaking up can also be challenging when you fear the response you may get.

Being able to advocate for your mental health is important in ensuring you receive the proper care and treatment you need. Standing up for what you need will make a difference in your quality of life, especially when queer because many struggles come with being a part of a marginalized group.

Try these tips to ensure that you advocate for the mental health care you need.

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Tips to Get the Right Mental Health Support

1. Have questions and concerns ready for the appointment.

This may seem obvious, but having an outline of things to discuss during your appointment with a therapist is very important. This will help with setting the direction of the appointments early on. An important part of mental health advocacy is knowing that you have the power to set the path of your appointments based on what you feel that you need most.

You should be aware of your ‘main issue’ which can shape the surrounding topics that your appointments will focus on. You can still have other complaints, but the overarching theme may be what your treatment plan focuses on. 

Before the appointment, create a list so you can remember the concerns you have. If you’re nervous at the appointment you may forget something, so writing it down ensures you can highlight everything that you want to with your doctor.

2. Have a chosen family member or friend tag along at appointments.

One of the best things you can do when advocating for yourself is to have someone else that can vouch for you. Bringing a person that you’re comfortable with and trust can help ease the pressure and to speak about what you need.

For those who have anxiety speaking up for themselves, this person can help to remember and explain certain events that you may have blocked out. They can also offer another perspective on situations that you’re discussing. 

Having an advocate can provide someone to have your back during a time when you may be feeling vulnerable. You don’t have to be alone in this process, especially because it can feel like no one hears you or understands. Don’t feel that you have to show up to an appointment alone.

3. Practice advocating for your mental health with a trusted person.

Knowing what to say and how to say it is one of the most important things when it comes to advocating for yourself. A therapist, family member, or friend can help you roleplay the situation. You can practice what to say and how to use clear and concise phrasing. They can also help you to put together a timeline of events that you can clearly describe, or even help you to remember the details of certain events.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help and be open about not knowing what to say. Lean on those around you to make sure that you can articulate exactly what you need.

4. Be professional and punctual to your appointments.

It may seem arbitrary to mention being on time, however, when you’re trying to advocate for yourself it’s great to put your best foot forward. Being able to stay calm and discuss what you need can make the fight that much easier.

Being on time also maximizes the amount of time you get in each appointment with your therapist. Having the full appointment time allows for more time to discuss what you need.

5. Emphasize what you’re experiencing.

Being open and transparent about everything you’re experiencing is critical to advocating for yourself. Don’t feel like you have to hide or minimize what you’re going through because of fear and shame. 

By using your voice to be upfront about how you’re feeling and what you need, finding the help you’re looking for will come easier. Continue explaining yourself if there are questions about it and don’t allow anyone to silence you.

6. Tackle one issue at a time.

When dealing with many different traumas it’s easy to feel like you need to address everything at once. It can feel like everything is overwhelming and your thoughts can be everywhere.

Choosing one issue to focus on at a time can help to make the process less daunting and provide attainable goals. Breaking down your traumas into smaller goals and steps can help when attempting to explain what you need or advocate for proper treatment.

7. Don’t give up!

Arguably the most important part of advocating for your mental health is staying strong in speaking up for what you need. There may be times when you’re silenced due to a lack of understanding or ignorance. There may be times when you feel like nobody understands what you’re experiencing. You may feel some days like you’re not talking to anybody who will listen.

It’s still important to be your own biggest advocate. Finding a doctor who will listen and know how to help you is attainable, and through doing research you can find the right care provider for you. As a queer woman, you can find a provider who’s respectful and understanding of you.

By doing as much research as possible, you can continue to speak up about what you’re going through and demand what you need.

Learn More with HER

HER provides a great community of advocates for queer women’s health. Find open-minded and unique people to connect with through groups, events, and more. You can find your chosen family, special person, or allies. There’s someone for everyone!

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Alexandra hails from Boston, MA but is currently living in the DC Area. She's passionate about social justice, self-care, spirituality, and watching documentaries. She's no stranger to telling her story through writing and has written for a variety of freelance publications. You can find her on Instagram at @lexlexlexlexlex__.

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