A. Create a Website or Start Your Own Blog
If you’re living with a mental illness or with a family member with a mental illness, consider creating your own website or simply starting a blog. A blog can be a highly personal journal but it can also be a place to write the day-by-day or week-by-week story of what it’s like for you to deal with various systems, or other issues you are facing that could benefit from social action. Your blog can be a powerful way to illustrate the need for change.
Once you have an archive of postings on your blog, begin to publicize it. Visit websites that are likely to attract people who would be interested in your story and the social issues you are raising, and mention your blog. You can write a letter to the editor on a mental health issue that your newspaper has written about and include the URL of your blog after your signature. Let the media know about your blog – it can be a resource for them as they write mental health articles.
It takes a few minutes to have a blog up and running. It takes compelling content and some time to build a regular readership. Blogs should be updated regularly, ideally daily but minimum once a week. A blog can be challenging because it takes time to build an audience and if no one is posting comments you don’t know how much of an audience you have. It’s important to make your blog as visually appealing as possible with well-written content if you want to attract readers.
WordPress is one of the most popular blogging programs, and the developers provide an option for users to create their own blog within a free hosted environment. For more information, visit www.wordpress.com.
B. Join or Start an Online Forum or Discussion Group
Find online forums that discuss your concerns or create your own. If there is an issue you’re concerned about, there are sure to be others out there that care about it too. A discussion group provides an opportunity to share experiences and then discuss action. It can be a great tool for organizing interested people to take action on an issue.
C. Create an Online Petition
Petitions to political representatives let them know that there are many people concerned about the issue. See below for links to some websites that can help you create your own online petition.
Create your petition about only one specific issue, state your concern clearly, and be specific about what you are asking the decision-makers to do. Be brief and to the point.
Encourage people to sign your petition. Tell everyone you know about it, and ask them to tell everyone they know. Remember to set a deadline for signing and to make the deadline clear. And of course, make sure that you submit the petition once the deadline has passed.
Do not create an e-mail petition. An e-mail petition never ends. It is spread through the Internet indefinitely and you only get back a portion of the names of the people who signed it.
You may want to learn more about how to write an effective petition before you post it online. See www.gopetition.com for some tips on petition writing.