On Becoming an 'Accidental' Mental Health Advocate

Last year, Jimmy Kimmel gave a powerful opening monologue in response to the proposed Graham-Cassidy bill. Kimmel, like myself and millions of other parents, have become what I call accidental advocates. We do not necessarily want to be involved in politics, but because of our children’s health conditions, we have to be involved in politics. I realize this is not the true definition of an accident, but like Kimmel, “This is not my area of expertise, my area of expertise is eating pizza and that’s really about it.” Right? If someone needed an advocate for eating pizza, hiring me would be no accident, I promise!

Each and every time I am at a doctor’s appointment with my son I think of someone else’s child. At that same moment in time someone else’s child is not seeing a doctor and is living with unnecessary pain, anxiety and grief. And it is not because the parents do not want to get help for their child. It is because they can’t. They either do not have health insurance, do not understand mental illness, can’t get an appointment, do not have transportation… the list goes on and on. At the end of the day, a child who deserves to live the best life possible is denied that right.

So, even though I call myself an accidental advocate, it really is no accident. The accident is believing you can’t do something. You can. Be a voice. If just one more person gets help because of your efforts it is well worth the fight.

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