Mental health consumers are 1 in 5 in the United States. They face the same daily obstacles that everyone else faces. However, they face obstacles with a mental illness. The general population has all kinds of beliefs that are not true about mental health consumers. They seem to be afraid of them and base their treatment of them on that fear. Mental health consumers are not dangerous, for the most part, they want to be better, and be productive. When someone we know gets cancer, we rally around them to help. When someone we know becomes mentally ill, we tend to stay away like it’s contagious. Consumers have to fight twice as hard, to get their needs met, than non consumers. The general public seems to have the idea that the consumer somehow caused their own illness.
One of the biggest obstacles that Tricia Alloway faces as a mental health advocate is getting the general public to understand the illness itself. She would like to see the public give mental health consumers the same fair opportunities that they give to non consumers. Tricia says, “I find it extremely frustrating to have a consumer go out and ask for what they need, and then have the consumer come back to me and say that they were shot down.”
Tricia has been in social work all of her career. When she was hired at SafeHaven , and learned what consumers face on a daily basis, she decided that doing advocacy work was where she was meant to be. Tricia said “My mission is giving a voice to someone who has none, and I consider this an honor.” In that sense, it is what being an advocate actually means.
One of the most critical issues that Tricia has faced as an advocate at SafeHaven was a suicide attempt. Several years ago, she was working closely with a woman named Tina who had been dealing with a lot of serious issues in her life. Tina was dealing with severe depression, looking for work, had lost her child to foster care, and had basically given up. She came in one morning and seemed...
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