After the murder of George Floyd in America the anti-racism movement has become even more public, as it should.
It’s crazy that in this day and age racism is still a social injustice and I think we can all agreed that it should have no place in our society.
However, I am in no way an expert on racial matters whatsoever.
In fact, during this time (Spring 2020 in case you’re reading this at a future date) I’ve been learning, educating myself and listening so I can better help fight this social injustice.
Therefore I didn’t want to make content specifically on how to stop racism because I felt that would be taking away valuable publicity from those who really do know the subject and can tell you the absolute best ways to help.
But I still wanted to use my platform to help fight this social injustice as much as possible, and what I do know about is how it feels to live with mental health issues, and how you can help to get rid of or live better with said mental health issues.
And one thing that I came across a lot when I had depression is there would be social injustices and causes that I felt really needed my support, but where I was so overwhelmed just getting through day to day life I didn’t know where to even begin to help those causes.
So I decided I would write this post specifically talking to those of you who have mental health problems or are just feeling overwhelmed with life because I wanted to offer you straightforward and easy but substantial ways you can take action that really does make a difference in the world.
These are practical things that really do help, even if they are considered “easy” to do.
So in this post I shall list out nine practical ways you can help make a difference in this world, fight social injustices and assist causes you believe in even if you have mental health issues like depression or anxiety or are just feeling so overwhelmed and do not know where to even start.
Quick disclaimer: If you do have any mental health issues or you think you might have depression or anxiety, please make sure you are seeing your medical professional. It’s so so important that you get a medical professional’s help if you have any mental health problems.
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Nine practical ways you can help make a difference in this world no matter your mental health
One – Focus on the money
Okay, so let’s start with the first and I think the absolute number one thing you can do to help make a difference in this world and it’s all about money.
Whether we like it or not the majority of us live in a capitalist society, which means money speaks.
Money makes actions happen and it can stop actions from happening – I’m not saying that money is the be all and end all of everything, but money can help make things a whole lot easier and can really speed things up, so because of that I think money is the number one place to start if you want to help, well, anything.
And there are two parts to helping with money.
The first and most obvious is donating and I think this is really, really underrated – everyone seems to look down on donating because it’s so easy to do.
Any while I do agree that other actions are also incredibly important, if you’re suffering from mental health issues and you have a limited capacity to help then donating is one of the absolute most effective things you can do.
At the end of the day these charities and foundations are experts in these matters so they can make actions and changes happen far quicker than we as individuals can. They have specialists on board who know what to do best, so anytime that there is a cause you wish to help, a social injustice to fight or you want to make a difference in the world, the first thing to do if you can afford it (and only if you can afford it of course) is to look out for a charity or some sort of foundation or organization that you can donate to because your money means you’re helping to pay someone to work on that cause more!
Then the second thing you can do in regards to money, and this applies even if you don’t have extra money available to donate, is every time you spend your money be mindful of what you’re spending it on and where.
Because we live in a capitalist society, every time you spend your money that’s basically like voting.
So it might seem silly to you, but whether you decide to buy one brand of something in the grocery store or another, that is a vote for the particular brand you’re paying for. Now you might choose it because it’s the cheapest or because you prefer the taste, but if there’s a cause that you’re really wanting to help start thinking consciously each time to go to buy something and see if what you purchase or the way you make that purchase can be done in a way that helps.
A really great example of this that I’m seeing from a lot of people who are advising on the best ways you can help anti-racism and fight the social injustice caused by racism it is where possible choose to shop with businesses and brands that are owned by people of color. This is helping to contribute to leveling the economic playing field between white-owned businesses, who have previously pretty much always had the privilege in terms of economics, and businesses owned by people of color.
Another example if you want to help fight climate change is when you next need to buy new clothes, choose clothes that come from a company that really focus on making sustainable, planet-friendly clothing or buy second-hand clothing instead from a thrift store.
Being conscious of where you spend your money may seem like a small thing to you but if we all start thinking about this a little bit more it will have a huge impact, and that huge impact all starts with us individually having a think before we buy something.
And seeing as we all have to buy something at some point this is something we can all do.
Two – Don’t Be Afraid of Jumping on the Bandwagon
Okay, hear me out because I know jumping on the bandwagon isn’t normally considered the best thing to do…
But there’s a saying that good ideas are always copied, and I totally believe in that.
So if someone else has found a super effective way to help a cause, help fight a social injustice or help make a difference in this world and you know you can easily do that thing, then do it.
Don’t worry that people are going to accuse you of jumping on the bandwagon just because it’s trendy or something like that.
If you’ve identified that what they’re doing will really make a difference and you know that you’re capable of doing that, don’t be afraid of what people will think, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel in order to help, the most important thing is to actually help and if you know that it’s going to help then do it. Who cares that it’s a bandwagon.
Three – Don’t feel ashamed or guilty of what you’re not doing
This one is less about doing something directly to help and more about managing yourself and your own self-care because those feelings of guilt and shame will weigh you down.
Really helping make a difference isn’t necessarily something that public and that people can see, so if you’re feeling shame or guilt because you feel you’re not doing enough or you fear your actions aren’t public enough that is only going to stop you and hold you back from doing the things that you are able to do to help.
If you really, really want to help make a difference and fight those social injustices, then you need to stop feeling guilt and shame about how much or how little you’re doing because that is just going to hold you back from helping.
Four – Educate Yourself
This kind of leads on very well from number three because this is one of those things that is not very publicly obvious that you’re doing, and that is to educate yourself.
If you want to help any cause, fight any injustice and make any difference in the world, you need to be fully educated on that subject.
And it’s not enough just to be educated from your point of view, for example, the side you’re on, you also need to actively seek opinions from the other sides of the argument so you can see where other people are coming from.
It’s so important that you’re able to empathize and at least understand where these other points of views have come from because knowing these sort of things can really help you if you’re ever in a discussion with someone about said cause, as not only will you be fully educated so you will know the subject inside out and know exactly why you stand where you stand, you’ll be able to back your argument up and understand where that person is coming from and why they have those objections that they have.
And when you understand that fully, you can formulate an argument and *nicely* explain why you disagree.
I use the word *nicely* very deliberately here because I think a lot of the time these other points of view come from the way we’ve been brought up or from a lack of education and when something’s explained to someone nicely rather than in a way where they feel like they’re being put down, it allows them the chance to think and to grow as a person and to change their point of view.
So I think getting fully educated on the entire subject is definitely something you can and should do in your own time at a pace that you can handle, which will help if you’re ever in a conversation with someone talking about that subject, or just so you know the most effective actions to help make a difference.
You’ll have that knowledge at your fingertips.
Five – Raise Awareness
This follows on directly from what I was saying earlier, if someone has already put into words (or an image, a video, or whatever media form) exactly what you want to say then as long as it’s not plagiarism and you’re not stealing anything, share what they’ve said and let it be as simple as that in spreading awareness.
I know people say, re-sharing a social media post isn’t enough, and I do agree there’s so much more we need to be doing, but if that’s all you can do, then do it.
You never know who that post might reach who otherwise wouldn’t have heard that point of view…
I mean I think we all discount that people we don’t even realise might look up to us and value our opinion, so if you make a public post or statement about something (I’m mainly talking about social media here but there are obviously other ways of doing it) someone who you don’t even realize looks up to you might see that post and it might make them think and do some of their own education.
So yes, the actions need to happen as well but when your mental health isn’t great or you’re just feeling so overwhelmed doing something as simple as raising awareness can make a huge difference and have a big impact.
Six – Examine your own strengths and abilities and see what you can do specifically
This one is quite difficult to explain so let me start with an example, and a great example of this is this post.
I really, really want to help fight racism but I know I need to do my own work and further educate myself and thus I’m not the best person to talk directly on this subject.
But I do know a lot about mental health, how to live with mental health problems, how to get rid of mental health problems, etc, etc and I have a platform and an audience.
Therefore I can combine these things and create this post which in its own way can help contribute to fighting racism because I’m hoping that I’ll be able to empower anyone who reads this to feel able to do one or two things to help that they didn’t feel able to do before.
So examine what strengths you have, maybe you have a lot of Instagram followers, in which case you could share some stuff on there. Maybe you have a really engaged friendship group that looks up to you, you could have conversations there.
They’ll definitely be something you can leverage in your life in some way, you just might have to think a little bit outside the box a little.
But the great thing is by leveraging a strength it should also make the action easier for you to do, a win if you have mental health problems!
Seven – Support influencers and content creators who stand for that cause
Now, I know I’ve mentioned social media a lot but it is incredibly powerful nowadays, virtually everyone has a social media account and influencers on social media have a huge (shock) influence on people. Therefore, by just following, watching and supporting their content, particularly content about that cause or social injustice has a huge impact because you are furthering to help amplify their already pretty loud voice.
Another thing that I think is a great idea is to really, really nicely and respectfully ask your favorite social media influencers or content creators publicly where they stand on specific issues.
Personally, as a content creator, I would love for someone to do this because I’m passionate about many different and important issues but because they aren’t necessarily related to what I talk about on my platforms I feel like I’m going off topic too much and not providing for my audience.
Whereas if someone else opens a conversation, that allows me to talk about it without feeling like that.
And it might also give them food for thought, because they might not have even come across this issue before and so that might lead them to go and research it, learn more about it and take a stand for it as well.
Eight – Don’t be afraid to say what you believe
This is a little bit more difficult but don’t be afraid to say what you believe because you never know who you might give strength to, to voice and believe fully their own beliefs or what they know instinctively in their heart.
And this doesn’t mean you have to have discussions and arguments with everyone because I do understand that can be incredibly tiring, especially when you have mental health problems and people play devil’s advocate (which can be very harmful to the conversation because it’s like they don’t actually want to learn, they just want to continue the argument.)
But just by saying where you stand on an issue can inspire others.
Also don’t be afraid to say you’re still learning about it. Explain that this is your stance right now but that you’re currently in the process of educating yourself so you don’t yet feel qualified enough to further discuss it. That’s a really easy way to shut down additional conversation about it respectfully.
This also inspires others that they too can be in the learning process and that they don’t have to be 100% sure and argue down to the very last thing. That they can actually go away, research, educate themselves and maybe learn something different and that that’s okay.
Nine – Don’t judge others
I know this one sounds a little strong but this might actually be one of the most important ones.
First of all, just in regards to helping your own mental health, if we judge others, we assume they’re judging us in the same way and it’s amazing that when you stop judging other people you stop assuming they’re judging you. Trust me.
A few years ago I really made an effort to not judge people as much and it’s incredible, it really does make a huge difference to feeling like you personally will be judged too. And of course, if we feel judged, we get hyper anxious about everything we’re doing rather than just going ahead and doing what we believe is right so as you can see getting rid of that feeling will allow you to make a difference so much more.
But also without being inside that person’s head and walking in their shoes, you don’t know whereabouts they are on their journey with that issue.
You don’t know their level of education, what they’ve been taught growing up, how disabling certain beliefs might impact their life.
For example, if their Mother taught them something that is considered unacceptable now, that would then lead to them questioning everything else their Mother taught them and that’s a really hard thing to do.
Now this isn’t me saying don’t ask for change or don’t ask people to educate themselves further.
That’s not it at all because there are issues out there that should not be issues anymore, like full stop.
What I’m trying to say is we’re all human and all humans make mistakes, and with less judgment on each other it gives us all the space to feel that it’s okay to admit we were wrong and that it’s okay for us to go and educate ourselves and consider a different point of view. So I think where we can if we can reduce judgment and give people a safe space to learn and to grow, to admit their mistakes, to change their beliefs, I think that’s huge.
Let’s wrap this up
So to conclude, the practical things you can do that really make a difference in this world even if your mental health isn’t great right now or you’re feeling really overwhelmed are:
- Focus on the money, donate where you can and spend consciously where possible.
- Don’t be afraid of jumping on the bandwagon if the bandwagon is genuinely helping.
- Don’t feel guilty or ashamed because your action isn’t significant, isn’t huge or isn’t very publicly obvious. Those feelings of guilt and shame are going to stop you from helping far more.
- Educate yourself; educate yourself on every aspect of the issue and also educate yourself on where other people’s opinions are coming from.
- Raise awareness. One of the easiest ways you can do that is literally posting on social media.
- Examine your own strengths and see what you can do specifically.
- Follow and watch content from influencers and content creators that publicly support those causes and fighting social injustice.
- Don’t be afraid to say what you believe.
- Don’t judge others.
As you can see, like a lot of these things are quite easy to do or they’re quite small, more internal things but doing them makes a huge, huge difference.
I say this a lot but we think change comes from one big massive action when really change comes from lots and lots of small actions, lots of tiny mindset shifts, adding up, creating momentum and shifting into that new state of change.
It is nearly always like the straw that breaks the camel’s back for both good and bad change.
It’s normally just one tiny last thing that makes the shift.
So let’s use that to our advantage and be one of those pieces of straw.