In honor of Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month, we co-hosted #ChatMS with patient leaders Randy (@MustStopMS), Cathy (@CathyChes), and Caroline(@TheGirlWithMS). Together, we reflected back on the awareness month and brainstormed new ways to maintain momentum and advocacy even after Multiple Sclerosis Awareness month ends.
Check out 5 key insights and highlights from our chat:
#1 Keep Telling Your Story
March may be Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month, but that doesn’t mean you should limit your advocacy to only one month a year. Stay engaged throughout the year, and work to raise awareness every day. Advocating consistently increases your reach, and extends your impact. As advocate, Cathy Chester succinctly notes “Using our voices creates the best kind of awareness for patients, pharma, and other stakeholders.”
Whether you’re an experienced advocate or just getting started, WEGO Health can help you make a difference and impact healthcare. Check out our course on legislative advocacy if you’re interested in making a bigger impact in health policy.
#2 Be Authentic in Your Advocacy
We’ve heard it time and time again: the patient voice is powerful. Every day, patient leaders in our network impact people in their communities by being a voice for the voiceless. Patient leaders also listen, connect and support others. Truly, the power of the chronic illness community lies in the honesty, compassion, and diversity of patient advocates. As Randy, @MustStopMS, states “There is no wrong way to be a patient leader. Find what’s comfortable for you.”
Whether you’re hosting events every week, running three podcasts, or simply offering a friendly ear to those who message you, your efforts are incredibly meaningful. After all, the differences in the patient community are what make it so great. Find your niche, and be you.
Check our course on leveraging your health story to get new ideas for your advocacy.
#3 Collaborate with Other Patients and Organizations
When we work with one another, our communities are stronger. Collaborating with other patient leaders in the multiple sclerosis community extends your reach and generates attention. Consider co-hosting events, or partnering on an awareness campaign. You’ll benefit from the crossover and interaction between your audience and your partners’ audience. It’s also a great idea to include your own followers in your activities. Start conversations, ask questions, and promote interactivity. As Candice wisely observes, “These conversations create awareness and promote a sense of community that shows we’re not alone in this battle.”
Creating a warm, inclusive, and inviting community helps others overcome isolation and encourages them to get involved in advocacy. The more you can grow your network, the more awareness you’ll raise. For tips on growing and cultivating your online community, check out this course.
#4 Get Involved in Research Efforts
We’re firm believers in including patient input in the work of healthcare stakeholders. As multiple sclerosis patients, participating in research studies will not only advance research but will also help you gain valuable skills as an advocate. You’ll make connections and learn new things that you can use to educate others in your community. Plus, you’ll get an exclusive opportunity to see cutting-edge scientific developments.
Don’t miss the opportunities section on the WEGO Health platform to access paid and voluntary opportunities to share your voice and improve healthcare data and insights.
#5 Experiment with Different Platforms and Mediums for Your Advocacy
It seems like every day there’s a new social media platform or trend popping up. It’s a good idea to experiment and try out new platforms and to create different types of content. Not only is it fun, but it also diversifies your feed and your community. Try participating in a podcast, blogging, or making a TikTok and see what sticks. Remember to be authentic, and you’re sure to succeed! Beyond that, be experimental – use humor and creativity to help guide you. Along the way, you’ll learn new things, and raise awareness. As Caroline says, “I think the more awareness we can build the better. Love seeing the variety out there.”
Looking to add more humor into your own advocacy? Check out our course on humor for patient leaders, and dive in!
These are just a few ways to stay engaged through the year, and we know there’s so much more to this conversation!
How do you plan to keep advocating for multiple sclerosis? Let us know what you’re working on and keep the conversation going by chiming in here.
We can’t wait to see what new ideas you’ll contribute. Remember to explore our platform for more resources that will help you elevate your patient advocacy.