Get Help

For people seeking support with mental health, finding a warmline, and locating resources in your community.

Peer Run Warm Line

Línea de apoyo de MHV, atendida y administrada por pares

Addiction Recovery Support Warm Line

Mental Health Resources

Mental Health Screenings

DIY Tools

Probation Peer Support

Get Information

For people wanting information about Virginia mental health legislation and policy, as well as in-person trainings and webinars to help understand, improve and maintain your mental health.

Latest News

Newsletter

Recovery Education

Facilitator Training

Peer Leadership Training

Trauma-Informed Resilience Training

On Demand Webinars

Virginia PRS Network

Get Involved

For people looking to get involved with mental health outreach, advocate for policy reform in the mental and behavioral health field, and support our mission to improve the mental health of all Virginians. 

Advocacy

Virginia Behavioral Health Advisory Council

Ways to Give

Volunteer

In Memoriam

Victory for Mental Health

About Us

Mental Health Virginia is the oldest mental health advocacy organization in Virginia.

Annual Reports

Virginia Affiliates

Contact Us

Advocacy and Recovery

Written by Bruce Cruser

Bruce Cruser has been Executive Director of Mental Health Virginia since 2016, bringing a background in social work and community corrections, and many years of leadership experience in local and state government.

February 13, 2018

Advocacy & Recovery

Sitting in Del. Charniele Herring’s office on Mental Health Advocacy Day with new friends from Alexandria’s Wellness Center, I couldn’t help but make the connection between recovery and advocacy as a constituent spoke up. “I’ve been going there (the Wellness Center) every day for many years, and it helps me stay focused and out of the hospital,” she told the Delegate. “I’m doing OK now, and I have a place to live, but more people really need housing,” she added, moving her thoughts to the Supportive Housing budget amendments currently before the legislature. “I know people who don’t have a safe place to live, and they are just in the street.”

Everyone has a story. As the peer recovery movement has shown across the world, by sharing our own story, when and how we are ready, we take ownership of our personal journey. In doing so we add to the collective journey of recovery, and we reveal how policies and practices affect the lives of children and adults in our community.

By speaking out, survivors help break through stigma and shame that contribute to discrimination, abuse and barriers to recovery. By joining with others, our personal advocacy becomes community advocacy. Each voice supports and encourages others on their paths to recovery, and energizes social change.

Pairing recovery and advocacy has a long tradition in the mental health movement, notably exemplified by the founder of Mental Health America, Clifford Beers. After 3 years suffering abuse in mental institutions, he wrote in 1908 that he would no longer suffer in silence, but was choosing to “fight in the open,” turning his personal struggle with a mental illness into a national reform movement.

We are advocating for a better mental health system, but our struggle may arise from a mental health or substance use issue, from domestic or sexual violence, or from any health condition or traumatic event that has carried with it public fear, misunderstanding or judgment. Despite the differences underlying recovery from serious health challenges and recovery from victimization or abuse, there are many similarities, and often overlapping experiences.  

Those who make policies need to hear from those who must live by them, whether it’s a law that prevents people from getting health care because they don’t have a job, or a corporate culture that keeps people from reporting sexual assault for fear of losing their jobs.

Today, #MeToo is a movement proving the power of collective voices speaking out from personal experience, as are the voices of gymnastic athletes who so courageously testified at the trial of their physician. The judge hearing victim impact statements allowed over a hundred survivors to testify – not because all their stories were needed to prosecute the case, but because each person needed to tell her own story as part of her recovery.

And it’s bringing positive change in our society.

 

Bruce Cruser, Executive Director

Mental Health America of Virginia

 

Don’t forget, you can keep track of the status of the bills and amendments we’re tracking by clicking here!

You May Also Like…

We are now Mental Health Virginia

We are now Mental Health Virginia

“Mental Health Virginia” - We’ve shortened our name, but not our mission. There’s a lot going on this May for Mental...

New Beginnings

New Beginnings

Embarking on new journeys, whether it's starting an internship, a new school environment, or diving into a new job,...