For most people, if you or a loved one have ever been diagnosed with a chronic health condition, then I guarantee you know how important self-advocacy is. Learning about your health condition becomes a full-time job…in fact, the more rare your condition, the more time you will spend learning. My parents taught me early on (in high school) how to advocate for myself, so I was shocked when I started working in healthcare, to discover how little patients knew about their own health. And not only did they not know about their own health, they never questioned anything and often had little input when asked if they had questions.

Photo by Georgina Vigliecca on Unsplash

I accompanied my grandma to one of her doctor visits when I was in my early twenties and embarrassed the shit out of her when I asked the doctor questions about his plan of care. I’ll never forget when he left the room to grab something and as soon as the door shut, she turned to me and said “what are you doing?! Why are you asking him questions? Just be quiet!” and I said “but you told me you had questions, so why don’t you ask them?” and she said “it doesn’t matter if he answers my questions, he knows best”. And I was stunned. I learned then just how much privilege I had that 1.) someone had taught me early on how to talk to a healthcare professional 2.) I knew I had the power to speak up and felt that I could without being punished for it. Here’s the thing, whether it’s a the doctor’s office, at the car repair shop, or on the phone with insurance, you deserve to have your voice heard and to get what you want. Now obviously, there are constructive ways of doing this and I’ll show you how.

More information:

Mental Health Recovery https://mentalhealthrecovery.com/info-center/how-to-self-advocate/

Patient Education vs. Patient Experiences of Self-advocacy: Changing the Discourse to Support Cancer Survivors https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4598253/

NAMI: https://www.nami.org/Your-Journey/Individuals-with-Mental-Illness/Understanding-Your-Diagnosis

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