Participating in activism is an important way of engaging with your community to create change and advocate for causes you believe in. Whether you are participating in human rights campaigns, political campaigns, recovery advocacy, or mental health advocacy, prioritizing your own mental health and wellbeing should be part of your activist strategy.
How can activism impact mental health?
Activism can be stressful on the body and mind. Much of it is unpaid work done by the very people who are affected by an oppressive system, so not only are activists experiencing oppression themselves, but they’re also actively working against it. Allies, too, may feel extra pressure or stress in environments that are unfamiliar, such as white people in anti-racist spaces. Friction and conflict are common in activist spaces simply because the world was set up to be difficult to create lasting and widely-felt change, and this tension can have negative impacts on those involved.
Make mental health a community-care priority
Self-care and mental health go hand in hand, as they do with community-care practice. Creating spaces for healing, processing grief, celebrating success, and supporting one another through life’s challenges should be an integral part of activist organizations and groups.
Working alongside one another and committing to a shared passion can create strong bonds that weather times of high stress, and reinforcing those bonds during the good times will ensure longevity for activist causes.
Create support circles outside of activism
Not everyone in your life will be as involved in the same causes as you, and that’s okay. It can be a benefit for experiencing life outside the fast-paced world of activism and advocacy. Talking to your family and friends about the things you care about, including your activism, is a neutral outlet for you to blow off steam and get new perspectives while also involving your loved ones in a part of your life they may not normally see.
Finally, seeing a therapist or finding a relevant support group can be an excellent way to routinely destress and talk about issues that are affecting your mental health without judgment.