Advocacy is defined as the act of speaking on the behalf of or in support of another person, place, or thing or the act of pleading or arguing in favor of something, such as a cause, idea, or policy; active support.
The Gathering Place performs many acts of advocacy on a daily basis. Helping to develop the peer voice or speaking on behalf of a peer when they have been taken advantage of by a landlord or other business or entity is common for us. We often advocate for those we serve by making phone calls or writing letters of support. We believe this is social justice.
Another form of advocacy that we practice is holding or taking part in community events that promote awareness of the importance of recognizing that mental health and substance use disorders are real and can affect anyone. We strive to break the stigma of what mental illness is and what it is not. Many disorders can be attributed to complex trauma from childhood or early adulthood, as a society we need to learn to practice trauma informed care and to not judge.
This annual event is an advocacy piece designed to raise awareness of mental health and or co-occurring substance use disorders in our community and uses the visual arts, poetry and music as a vehicle to conduct outreach to our community about The Gathering Place’s programming and services. The theme for the art pieces and installation is always about using light and shadow, bringing the issue of mental illness out of the darkness and into the light, thus, busting stigma!
NAMI Walk the Walk
We also take part in the annual NAMI Walk the Walk community advocacy event that raises awareness of mental illness. This event was actually started by a Gathering Place member many years ago and NAMI Athens took up the mantle in continuing and our organization supports this annually.
Supporting Funding & Levies
The Gathering Place also continues to lend a voice for the importance of continued funding for mental health and addiction services at a state and local level and supports the 317 Board Levy every few years by taking part in messaging in our community. This important community Levy supports more than half of our organizational budget and in turn supports those we serve from the Athens Community.