25 Ways to Be a Strong Health Self-Advocate

Learning to advocate for yourself and your healthcare needs is important, especially when it comes to getting treatment for ongoing health concerns, pain management and chronic conditions such as endometriosis disease. As the saying goes, it’s not always going to be easy – but it going to be worth it.

Self-advocacy is a competency that both women and men can benefit from when it comes to making your health and well-being needs a priority. Adapting the self-advocate attitude is akin to self-empowerment. The more you practice it, the more confident and self-assured you become.

You may have to strengthen your self-advocacy voice and find clever ways to make yourself heard, but never give up on yourself – even when it feels like no one is listening.

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25 ways to be a stronger self-advocate

Here are 25 simple effective ways to develop your self-advocacy strengths and skills. The first step is learning why and how to be a self-advocate. Then, make a conscious decision to advocate for yourself each and every time you attend a medical or healthcare appointment. You matter! The more you engage with your healthcare provider in a positive and confident way, discuss your needs, wants and concerns the better.

  1. Trust and believe in yourself by learning to be a self-advocate.
  2. Learn to be aware of your own body.
  3. Discuss what you are experiencing with close family, friends or even a therapist for support.
  4. Educate and inform yourself from reputable and professional sources.
  5. Be prepared for health checks and medical appointments.
  6. Write questions down in advance.
  7. Bring a list of symptoms including dates, duration etc.
  8. Note any concerns you’d like to address.
  9. Notify the healthcare provider of any other healthcare practitioners or therapists you are attending.
  10. Bring your medical records if necessary. 
  11. Ask for clarification about your case that may be needed during the appointment. 
  12. Share your preferences and needs about treatment.
  13. Express factors such as lifestyle, work, home life, personal beliefs etc that could impact your care. 
  14. If you have concerns, write them down and voice them. 
  15. Bring a loved one, a close friend or advocate if you feel you need to.  
  16. Know your rights as a patient, including the right to information, informed consent, and the ability to refuse treatments. 
  17. Know what private healthcare cover options are available to you.
  18. Know when it’s time to change doctors or get a second or third opinion if it doesn’t feel sufficient.
  19. Always for signposting to additional information, supports, services or organisations.  
  20. Engage with relevant national organisations and charities associated with your diagnosed condition for information, support and guidance E.g Coeliac Society of Ireland or Endometriosis Association of Ireland
  21. Self-coach yourself to overcome blocks, fears or challenges.
  22. Get professional help from a Psychotherapist or Health coach
  23. Keep a regular journal or diary to help the self-advocate confidence.
  24. Make your well-being and self-care a priority while awaiting a medical appointment.
  25. Always follow up on appointments, tests, and waiting lists when you don’t hear anything.

Finally, please believe that you do not need permission from anyone to begin your self-advocacy journey. Self-advocacy and good quality healthcare are something everybody, race, gender, ethnicity, age and sexuality is entitled to in Ireland.

You may have to strengthen your self-advocacy voice and find clever ways to make yourself heard, but never give up on yourself – even when it feels like no one is listening. By learning to be a strong self-advocate, you are also paving the way for better healthcare outcomes for others coming behind you. For help, support and counselling or coaching, get in touch at orlaghreid.ie

Orlagh Reid Psychotherapy

Orlagh Reid

Orlagh Reid is an IACP accredited Counsellor & Psychotherapist, Addiction Counsellor, Gottman Couples Therapist and Fertility Counsellor in private practice based in Co. Kildare, Ireland and worldwide online via DOXY. She specialises in addiction, recovery, well-being and clinical sexology. To find out more or to book an online consultation visit www.orlaghreid.ie

Orlagh Reid Psychotherapy MIACP Therapy Ireland

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