- Post 1
- Describe two of the areas, such as criminal justice, health care, and others, where advocacy might be appropriate
Chapter 8 discussed the importance of advocacy and how the transition from counseling to advocacy is a natural process. When working with clients, the counselor is exposed to learning about specific issues that are out of the individual’s control and are directly the results of harmful and faulty social and political policies. This is when the counselors have the opportunity to do something about it and become advocates for the specific issues that affect their clients and many families within their communities. Counselors have the tools and experience to generate change at a social/political level by first identifying the issue at a general level that can be fixed through social/political intervention. The counselor then looks for the actions and changes that would help eliminate the problem. Establishing the problem and identifying the solution are the first two-step for advocacy. The third is looking for allies and active political figures to create and advocate for policies that can eliminate the issue. Some of the areas where counselors can become advocates are in the criminal justice and Health Care system. The criminal justice system is the main branch that enforces governmental policies and penalizes those who do not comply with the law. This is an area where many outdated laws can harm those who live in a disadvantaged community or minorities (Hispanics, African Americans, and Asian communities). The Health Care System in the United States is a private sector divided into many different organizations like insurance companies, healthcare providers, hospital systems, and independent providers. Since it is a private sector, those with insufficient funding and low-income status have a hard time getting the health care they need they deserve. Both of these systems have issues that benefit people disproportionately. Justice and health are both things everyone should have access to, and it is the advocate’s job to attain it.
- Why might advocacy be necessary for the areas you chose?
As mentioned above, advocacy is necessary for both the criminal justice and health care system. It is well known that both of the systems mistreat individuals from low-income and minority races. The Justice System has created unfair biases towards the mentioned individuals that affects their everyday life. There is a need for advocacy to bring to light these issues and hold the justice system accountable for its mistreatments. In the health care system front, many allies are working toward fair health care policies, and the advocate can help make sure the goals are met. The advocate is there to bring awareness of the government’s unfair actions and bring to light policies that affect the community disproportionately. In both of these areas, allies are working towards the common good and equal treatment for all.
Counselors play an essential role especially as a social/political advocates for their clients. They must take action, being conscious of their skills, and use their knowledge and resources to create change while also participating in movements. By helping our clients, we learned about their needs, and how we can be serve as an change agent while ‘fighting’ with them. We need to be aware of factors that commonly affects the individuals, and at the same time, maintain a close relationship with advocacy organizations that can help in our fight against discrimination, unfairness, justice, stigmatization and other types of oppression. As a result, there are many areas in which advocacy might be appropriate. However, it will depends on the client’s needs. Two areas where advocacy can be put in action is Health Care and Immigration Civil Rights.
Evidently there is a need for effective, affordable and high quality health care for all individuals. There is a crisis of health insurance affordability. In fact, in the first half of 2020, 43.4% of U.S. adults, from ages 19 to 64, were inadequately insured. (The Commonwealth Fund, 2020) Not only that but, half of the adults who have been uninsured reported problems paying medical bills. Therefore, counselors can advocate for clients that for some financial or personal reason cannot afford the health care that they need. In those cases, counselors can advocate by collaborating with state or community-based organizations that represents individuals with the same issue. For example, Families USA is a non-profit organization that advocate in health policy debates. Their goal is to achieve affordable care for all individuals living in the U.S. Furthermore, there is another organization called Universal Health Care Action Network or (UHCAN) that helps leaders and policy experts to build a relationship. The purpose is to facilitate new alliances, connecting state health care advocacy groups, and promoting an effective consultation with policymakers.
Another area in which counselors can advocate for their clients is in Immigration Civil Rights. There are cases in which individuals are afraid of continuing higher education studies, they are discriminated, exploited and abuse in their workplace because of their immigration status or lack of documents. There are even clients who have been abuse not only physical but, sexual and emotional. There is no doubt that the fear, discrimination and insecurity is so powerful that they choose to hide and continue in this abuse cycle. So, what we can do as future mental health professionals is help the client by not only advocating but, referring them to professionals who might help them with their legal status, and might do it as pro-bono work. In addition, a counselor can help by participating in community organizations and encouraging funding for immigrants/refugee community initiatives. They also can represent immigrants by giving them ‘voice’ while fighting immigration policies. Finally, we also have the options of advocating for family reunification and humanitarian support.