How to be Your Own Advocate

Last Updated: 29 Jul 2020
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Being your own advocates means speaking up regarding your mental health treatment when you’re able and having a clear plan in place assigning others the task when we’re not. In this respect, a little bit of planning (when we’re well) can go a long way toward assuring we get the best care possible when we’re not, as well as toward minimizing the stress our illness and potential hospitalizations end up causing our friends and family members.  So here are just a few tips with respect to being our own advocates that I hope you’ll find useful. 

 

  1. Create a Crisis Plan and keep it updated. This plan should include your insurance information, your preferred hospitals, your medical history (both psychiatric and physical), allergies, and any other information you see fit to include in it. Also, include copies of your healthcare and financial powers of attorney as well. It might help to review some of my previous blog posts about the importance of a crisis plan, as well as some tips on what to include in your crisis plan. 
  2. Tell a trusted friend and/or family member where your Crisis Plan is, or better yet, give them a copy in advance. Discuss your wishes with them verbally as well. 
  3. And always remember, you have the right to direct the course of your treatment, including the right to refuse treatment if you see fit. Unless you’re in the midst of an acute and/or psychotic episode, you nearly always have the right to refuse treatment. This, of course, doesn’t mean you should, but then again, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Know what your preferences and limits are, and don’t be afraid to say no to any healthcare provider or to ask questions. 

 

 

What are your tips? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

About the author
Melody Moezzi, an award-winning author and visiting professor of creative nonfiction at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, is also an activist, attorney, and keynote speaker. Her most recent book, The Rumi Prescription: How an Ancient Mystic Poet Changed My Modern Manic Life, joins her earlier works: the critically acclaimed Haldol and Hyacinths and War on Error, which earned her a Georgia Author of the Year Award and a Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights Honorable Mention. In addition to her Flight of Ideas column for bp Magazine, Moezzi’s writing has appeared in many outlets, including Ms. magazine, the New York Times, the Washington Post, NBC News, the Guardian, HuffPost, Al Arabiya, and the Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine. She has also appeared on numerous radio and television programs, including CNN, BBC, NPR, PBS, PRI, and more. Moezzi is a graduate of Wesleyan University, the Emory University School of Law, and the Emory University Rollins School of Public Health. She divides her time between Cambridge, MA, and Wilmington, NC, with her husband, Matthew, and their ungrateful cats, Keshmesh and Nazanin. For more information, please visit melodymoezzi.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

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