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Health Policy-Advocacy: Addressing Daily Issues

SAMHSA - Mary Ellen Copeland, M.S., M.A.

Speaking up for yourself sometimes will be needed on a more personal and subtle level. Maybe you have a friend who talks too much. Maybe your child is having trouble at school and you think the teacher is blaming the child. Maybe you got a bill for more than what you were told you'd be billed. Maybe your doctor, or some other health care provider, has made disparaging remarks, such as "Do you really think you need this appointment?" Maybe your spouse always talks you out of doing something that you want to do by saying something, like "You're no good at that, I'll do it." Maybe your neighbor is accusing you of a problem you are not responsible for. Maybe your landlord hasn't fixed something he says he would.

Everyone has these kinds of problems. Having to advocate for oneself is a fact of life. Consider the following list of actions you can take to speak up for yourself:

  • take a class in conflict resolution or assertiveness. Learn how to calmly, firmly, and effectively speak for yourself
  • join a self-help, or peer support group, because there is power in collective action
  • call a mediator
  • consult a lawyer or advocacy agency
  • tell your friends, family, and neighbors what is going on. Spread the word
  • take a friend with you when you must stand up to an aggressive person
  • consider how you would want to see someone else handle the situation, then follow your own advice

When advocating for yourself, avoid:

  • taking out all your frustration on one person or the wrong person or situation
  • breaking the law
  • anger and/or threats
  • "one-upping" anyone or doing things that will make the situation worse
  • giving up


Sourced from Speaking Out For Yourself: A Self-Help Guide, SAMHSA booklet SMA-3719


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