I launched Beyond Medicine-Patient Advocacy a year ago. My goal was to create an organization that could fight the injustices facing psychiatric patients. I took a year to put myself through a patient advocacy training program at UCLA Extension, and I earned a Certificate in Patient Advocacy.
Receiving more formal education on direct patient advocacy (actually taking on individual clients to help them navigate things being done to them within the health system) was a great experience, but serving one patient at a time, while important, is not the work I formed this nonprofit to do.
My intent was to provide a wealth of health literate (meaning easy to understand) resources, like guides and checklists, to help mental health patients self advocate. I also wanted to create trainings for medical providers so we can create change from both directions: patient self advocacy and providers understanding psychiatric patient rights. Finally, I wanted to produce research to support the role of patient advocacy and also to use patient advocacy within health policy to protect patients.
Enter our new logo. The tree of life is, for me, an icon that symbolizes our shared humanity and connection. Patient advocacy is inherently about protecting people from ethical violations that disregard our human right to choice and consent. To symbolize the research focus of Beyond Medicine, the leaves of our tree of life are made up of molecules.
There’s much more to come from Beyond Medicine in the near future. We will be launching a massive research project to create a wiki of patient’s rights to refuse treatment and medication to cover all 50 states in December. And we will also begin a survey to interview people who have been involuntarily hospitalized to understand their perspective on being involuntarily hospitalized.
In the meantime, we will be posting regularly with tools, guides, and other resources to help you self advocate and help medical professionals understand their role in patient advocacy.