After you finish watching a really good movie, often times you may look up the main characters and their acting backgrounds, discover what other films they’ve been in, or even find their pages and follow them on social media. Think of advocacy and activism for mental health care the same way, the movie doesn’t end once you get out of your seat and leave the theater. This month, educators, content creators, academics, religious leaders, actors, well known activists, and so many others have shared an abundance of information regarding mental health care and the black community. They’ve shared tools, resources, examples, hard truths, historical statistics and facts, but the question is, what are you going to do with these tools now that you have them?
Here are a few ways to continue the fight for equity in mental health care for BIPOC:
1. Find businesses and organizations that align with the message you believe in and support them. There are many businesses out there that go above and beyond to not only support black lives but also support black minds. Do your research and begin contributing and supporting their efforts in ways that are feasible for you. (Example: Ben and Jerry’s )
2. Create spaces for conversation. There are a range of emotions that come along with “living while black”. Create spaces where people can feel safe to share their emotions, thoughts and opinions in healthy and productive ways. Some of the greatest change begins with an idea from a conversation.
3. Share resources. While there are many resources out there, many people either don’t know about them or do not have access to them. You simply sharing information about a resource by word of mouth, on social media or even via email, could assist in saving someone’s life. Even if mental health isn’t something you typically post about, be confident and use your voice in unique ways to disseminate information. Mental health is “on brand” for everyone.
4. Immerse yourself in learning and ask questions. Read articles and books. Listen to podcasts and news stories. Ask questions of the people around you and elders considered wiser than you (be sure your questions are tactful and respectful). With such a large influx of information available to us, there is no excuse not to learn about things we desire to learn or do not understand.
If you’ve already began to do these things, don’t stop now. Your advocacy and activism does not have to look like mine, but let’s get active together!
We don’t have the luxury of sitting back and being silent if we want change to occur.
Alexis Long-Daniels, M.A., ALC, NCC