Recently, I got some exciting news that I’ve been selected as a finalist for a 2016 WEGO Health Activist Award in the “Best in Show – Blog” category. The awards also recognize outstanding activists in several other categories, such as social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube), “best kept secret,” “rookie of the year,” “lifetime achievement,” and more.
I did a little research and found that WEGO Health, a network of over 100,000 health influencers, created the Health Activist awards, now in their 5th year, to recognize and thank leading health care influencers and to connect such leaders across multiple health conditions and platforms.
As part of the criteria for the awards, I was asked to complete this sentence: “I am a health advocate because…”
Great question, and I’ll fill in the blank in just a bit. But as I considered my formal answer, a number of possible reasons came to mind for why I’ve chosen to engage in health and mental health advocacy. Here are my top five reasons:
1) I was raised to believe in public service.
My family has always been big on public service. I’ve had several relatives who have served in various appointed and elected positions serving the public. Undoubtedly my father was my biggest influence, as he had a multi-decade career of service in a variety of groups aimed at promoting the public good. I guess the apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree.
2) There is great need.
Just look around and you’ll see a world struggling in many ways, including challenges related to physical and mental health conditions. Anything I can do to provide helpful information to lessen someone’s burden is certainly worth the effort.
3) After all, I’m a teacher.
In my day job, I’m an assistant professor in psychology at a large state university. Teaching and service are a big part of my official work responsibilities, so it’s only natural that I would extend these goals to social media and the internet to try to provide public education on a somewhat larger scale.
4) I want to be a positive role model.
I work with college students and train future psychologists. I also have an impressionable teenager at home. I want to show them that advocacy is not some abstract, unattainable concept. It’s as simple as a tweet, a blog post, an email or a heartfelt conversation. And yes, even one voice does matter.
5) It’s just the right thing to do.
We all want to make a difference in some small way. If information that I share can help even just one person or family to be better informed, more empowered or more effective in getting their needs met or just to feel a little better, I’ve met my goal.
So, what’s my official answer to “I’m a health advocate because…?”
While I’m tempted to cop out and say “all of the above reasons,” I’ll play fair and say “I’m a health advocate because we can’t afford to be silent when having a voice can really make a positive difference in the lives of others.”
Here’s a question: Why are you an advocate and what are your advocacy goals? Please leave a comment. Also, please consider subscribing to my blog and feel free to follow me on Twitter, “like” my Facebook page, or connect on LinkedIn. Thanks!