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Whether you’re in high school, college, or exploring post-grad life, you and your friends want to be there for one another in the good times and the bad, and that means advocating for health and wellness however you can. Mental health is a part of taking care of your overall health, and that goes for both you and everybody around you. School can be stressful, which means it’s more important than ever to be able to rely on your support system. If you’re in school right now, you might be in search of the best ways to advocate for your own mental health and the mental health of your friends.
There are so many great ways to practice mental health advocacy in your life and in your friend group. If you’re looking for ways to make your friend group a healthy and welcoming space for everyone involved, there are so many techniques you can put into practice. Here are a few ways you can become an advocate for mental health.
1. Practice Self Care
Practicing self care is a great way to encourage those around you to do the same and setting a great example for your friends. Self care can take many forms, and whatever it means to you and your friends, you can encourage one another to care for yourselves. You are who you surround yourself with, after all. Plus, you can only help others after you’ve helped yourself, so self care is crucial.
2. Talk Openly About Mental Health
Another great method for advocating for mental health among your friends is starting open and honest conversations around mental health. While it can be hard to speak openly about your mental state all the time, talking about mental health with those close to you can help you process things and feel less alone — and that goes for everybody.
3. Be a Good Listener
In addition to the talking part, the listening part is also an important feature when it comes to mental health advocacy. When your friends come to you for help with something, listen to them and hear them out. Sometimes just being seen and heard is enough to make someone feel a little bit better about their situation.
4. Go to Appointments Together
If your friends happen to be going through counseling — on or off campus — or if they need moral support when attending therapy or group sessions, accompanying them is a great way to encourage the positive developments they’re making. Seeking help can sometimes be hard, and offering your moral support or suggestions for mental health resources can mean a lot, especially for those who experience anxiety and might not go on their own.
5. Ask Your Friends What They Need
If you’re in a position to do so, you can always ask your friends exactly what they need in terms of support. We can’t always be mind readers, and often, positive support is all about communication and honesty. If your friend is in need of support, ask them exactly how you can help. Everyone’s needs are different, and they can even change from day to day when someone is in a tough situation. When you ask and communicate openly, you can do a lot of good.
6. Participate in Wellness Centered Activities
Being an advocate for mental health might sound like it can only take one form, but that’s far from the truth. There are so many ways to experience mental wellness, and since the body and mind are connected, those methods include overall wellness activities. Taking hikes, spending leisure time together, cooking healthy meals to enjoy, making art, and volunteering are all great ways to bring wellness into your lives, and doing those things together can hold you accountable to keep the habit going.
7. Spread Positivity When You Can
While this one might seem a bit simple, it’s actually highly beneficial. Spreading positivity can mean a multitude of things, from uplifting words of affirmation to being a comforting presence in your friends’ lives. While you don’t want to participate in toxic positivity — which involves discouraging the expression of any negative thoughts and emotions — being kind and uplifting is a great way to create a happy presence in the lives of those around you.
Becoming a Mental Health Advocate
There are so many ways to be there for your friends, whether you’re in school or you’ve graduated. Advocating for the mental health and wellness of those around you is one of the most important ways you can support your friends — and one of the best ways they can support you, too. How do you and your friends advocate for each others’ mental health?