Not An Advocate
I am not a mental health advocate.
I never have been.
I am a person who cares about mental health.
I am also a person who cares about physical health, but you wouldn’t ever think to call me a physical health advocate, would you?
It comes up a lot, and the label ‘advocate’ has never sat right with me because, to me, it places an asterisk on the phrase ‘physical and mental health are equal*’
If they are equal, then one should not require special labels for people who are passionate about it. There are many, many people who are passionate and dedicated to physical health in our world today, yet I have never heard anyone be referred to as a physical health advocate, because it feels like quite a silly thing to say.
I believe that mental health and physical health depend on one another, and are two sides to a more holistic view of health itself. My mental health routines incorporate a lot of aspects which also benefit my physical health – because they are interdependent.
So, if I really do believe mental and physical health are equal, it seems a bit strange for me to label myself as an advocate, because advocation implies a lack of equality by nature. It implies that mental health is less than, and in my view, it absolutely isn’t.
That isn’t to say that there are actual inequalities between them. Of course more emphasis is placed on physical health. There is a still a lot of stigma surround mental health and mental illnesses. There is still very little funding from our government given to any health issues surrounding the mind. I’m not out here trying to ignore these issues because they do exist, and they do need people to advocate for them.
What I am saying is that, in order for us to get to a place where physical and mental health are considered equal across the board, we have to begin by treating them equally ourselves. We have to fake it until we make it, in a way.
And so, because I want these two mental and physical wellbeing to be equal, I am not a mental health advocate, because nobody has to be one for physical health. Every time someone refers to me or anyone else as an advocate for mental health, it implies that there’s a subconscious belief at play.
And this is the belief that mental health just isn’t equal to physical health within society. If we really viewed mental as an equal to physical we wouldn’t be calling anyone an advocate.
The words we use are important. I’ve always believed that. I am passionate about mental health, and believe it to be as important as physical health, as well as intertwined with it.
And so, because I think mental health is as important as every other aspect of our wellbeing, I can firmly say I am not a mental health advocate.