Psychologists often support mental health through education, practice and research efforts within their job settings. However, there are numerous other ways to support positive mental health for individuals beyond the practice, research or education setting.
Here are some tips for supporting mental health beyond your practice:
1. Provide pro-bono work.
This can include participating in prevention walks, doing volunteer work in the community, or being a resource for the media regarding psychological issues. For example, the Ohio Psychological Association and Central Ohio Psychological Association has co-sponsored a walking team for the Out of the Darkness Suicide Prevention Walks in Central Ohio for the last 7 years. This year the walking team raised over $1800 to support direct suicide prevention efforts in the Central Ohio area and prevention research nationally.
2. Organize community programs.
Psychologists are often excellent resources for health awareness, and can provide community programming within schools, libraries, YMCA's, etc. that target specific psychology topics. One good example is the VA Mental Health Fair, which is held in May during Mental Health Month. Each year the CoSR assist with the organization of speakers and booths so that veterans can increase their awareness of community resources and mental health support networks.
3. Educate colleagues.
Psychologists are often aware of resources and social advocacy efforts that their colleagues are not. Sharing this information, whether through a blog (e.g., OPA Member Kevin Arnold, Ph.D.'s "The Older Dad" for Psychology Today), twitter posts (e.g., @DrFinnerty, @ohpsychassn, @marylewisphd, @stress_doc), or listservs, can educate and assist colleagues in better serving their clients.
4. Be an advocate.
Advocacy in psychology is often seen in the legislative realm, and effectively communicating with legislators on positive mental health legislation is a crucial part of supporting mental health. However, advocacy does not just mean testifying at legislative hearings or signing petitions. Advocacy could include emailing legislators, making phone calls, attending OPA's Legislative Day, or sharing information about relevant legislation with others.
In today's world, time is precious and limited; however, many of these activities do not require a significant commitment of time and may positively benefit someone's mental health in ways we do not realize.
This mission of the Ohio Psychological Association Committee on Social Responsibility (CoSR) is to promote and coordinate the involvement of psychologists in programs and projects in the community, including advancing a social justice agenda by applying the science and practice of psychology to human welfare, as well as advocating for the fair treatment of Ohio residents through education, training and public policy.