Awareness, Advocacy, Accessibility, and Action

teen mental health

Professional treatment providers are expected to have multiple options for their clients in need of care for their mental health issues. There is no one-size-fits-all plan that applies to all clients, making it imperative that professionals balance what is already in their roster of choices with the latest studies and modalities that arise. 

Fifty-six percent of Americans are seeking mental health services for themselves or a loved one. Those doing so are more likely to be young, living with a low income, or have a military background. When you factor in that 50% of lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14, it is clear that the need for timely and impactful mental health for all is of great importance.


Raising awareness has long proven beneficial when it comes to shining a spotlight on mental health. When awareness of a specific issue that requires therapeutic treatment is heightened, there are multiple benefits. When more people become aware of one of these conditions, or better comprehend the details of living with them, it promotes a better understanding of it. This, in turn, makes it easier for someone who requires diagnosis or has already been diagnosed to speak up about their struggles. Awareness also can lead to increased funding for organizations. 

The National Alliance on Mental Health helps promote Mental Illness Awareness Week to bring awareness to millions each year. The theme for it this year is “What People with Mental Illness Want You to Know”. The week includes such activities as National Depression Screening Day and Walkathons. 


There are many ways to advocate for mental health. When professionals and sufferers speak out about their experiences, in person, and via outlets like social media, they are letting others know the reality of their situations. They can, in turn, ask them to assist in advocating for the cause. A vital way to provide help for countless individuals is to help campaign for legislation that benefits those in need of services. Too often, politicians and grass-roots organizations have an opportunity to vote or sway the opinions of those in power, but not enough people know about their causes. Starting a petition, volunteering to help mail out information, making phone calls, or donating can help get the word out. So often, there is an untapped number of people who want to advocate but don’t know there are opportunities like this to lend a hand.

Encouragement of kinder language can help, such as when a concerted effort was made to retire the word “retarded” from the lexicon, especially when used as an insult. When it becomes less socially acceptable to make jokes or dismiss mental health issues as the propriety of lesser people, everyone benefits. 


A 2018 study by the Cohen’s Veteran Network and National Council for Behavioral Health stated that America’s mental health services have proved insufficient. The main problem is the lack of access to it. The study cites that the high cost of help is a huge hindrance to many, especially those who lack insurance coverage. People in rural areas sometimes must drive a long distance to receive support due to a lack of treatment providers near their homes. Many professionals have a long wait time for an available appointment, causing some people to want to give up on trying to get help. 


Taking action to help those with mental health challenges can take many forms, some already discussed, such as spreading awareness and becoming an advocate. People can also contact local mental health organizations and facilities and inquire about volunteering. Even just a few hours a month can make a huge difference. 

Sometimes action comes in what may feel like one small step but is huge to the person on the receiving end. If you know someone who deals with an issue like depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder, let them know that you would be happy to help them with anything they need. Someone struggling may be too shy to ask for help or assume that they will be judged. Let the person know you are available to help them with making an appointment or driving them to pick up their medication. Mental health issues often are made worse when someone feels they have no choice but to go it alone. Try offering to be a sympathetic ear or a sounding board. Knowing even just one person is on their side can motivate them to take action.

Utilizing the 4 A’s

Talk to your fellow treatment professionals to brainstorm how you can utilize awareness, advocacy, accessibility, and action to give hope and a hand up to those dealing with the fragility of living with mental illness. Lasting, positive change for those in need of assistance managing their mental health is possible when all four avenues are explored.

When your child is struggling with a mental illness, it can feel like a hopeless proposition. Many parents begin a frantic search for information about helping their child, not knowing what their exact needs are or what approaches will work best. Sustain Recovery provides several options for treating mental illness in adolescents, including using the 4 A’s: Awareness, Advocacy, Accessibility, and Action. We offer several program options that address a variety of mental health conditions and addiction to substances and alcohol. Our California facilities offer various clinical interventions, 12-Step recovery, education, and empowerment of our clients. We include the family to establish separate support groups for them and implement a total plan to help everyone succeed when the child returns home.

Call us now and let us help your family! (949) 407-9052.