In our growing and ever-changing world, a variety of information, services, and support has been the essential glue that maintains and strengthens the communities around us. Readily drawn upon when particular situations arise, resources ensure that knowledge, stability, and relief efforts can be distributed or shared at a moment’s notice. In ideal circumstances, these resources can be shared among more than just one singular community, in which communities can utilize their provisions to indicate care, support, understanding, and empathy for neighboring populations. But what’s the catch?
Resource provision is not an equal process, and the distribution of current resources may not have as far of a reach as we have previously anticipated.
First-world countries such as the United States and Canada have a plethora of varying resources and distribution potential, whereas economically developing countries such as Bolivia, China, India, and Saudi Arabia have far fewer resources and limited distribution potential. In addition, industrialized/developed countries have limitations within the resource space, as many topics or areas of need are emphasized more than others, even when the growing need or support for the ignored topic is urgently needed.
In light of the inequities that many communities face today, let me ask you: What are we doing to stop this?
In the United States, many nonprofit organizations have been created to increase awareness and resources for neglected topics at both the national and international levels.
Two well-known nonprofit organizations with this shared mission aim to increase resource accessibility and provision for mental health crises and autism, respectively:
1. Crisis Text Line
At Crisis Text Line, a 24/7 mental health texting service is utilized to assist texters in the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, and Canada with their mental health crises.
These crises include depression, anxiety, suicide, eating disorders, grief, trauma, and abuse. Their approach for resource distribution is simple: a texter discusses their specific mental health crisis with a certified volunteer Crisis Counselor, who will provide a listening ear, support, and resources.
Not only is Crisis Text Line’s list of resources relatively large (100+) and continuously expanding every month, the resources provided are free/low-cost and highly accessible through phone, desktop, and print options.
These options are crucial in this current space, as the pandemic has forced so many people to stay at home and halted in-person resource provisions and proceedings.
2. Organization for Autism Research (OAR)
OAR is led by adults, parents, and grandparents that are either on the autism spectrum or have children/grandchildren that are on the autism spectrum. In particular, their mission is to seek answers about autism behaviors and societal inequities through applied science and research.
To aid in expanding awareness, OAR has taken an initiative in which volunteers distribute resources in a hybrid format.
Should a volunteer wish to distribute resources in-person (and are following COVID-19 protocols), they are requested to order the materials and resources from OAR to their home and distribute said materials to schools, churches, and other social and educational institutions.
Virtual distribution efforts would provide digitally-formatted resources to families, individuals, or institutions that are lacking the information or support for children and families with autism.
Through these distribution efforts, OAR’s approach also has immense potential to support economically developing countries.
Although the autism materials are only distributed on the national scale, a lot of their approaches aim to increase overall research efforts on autism, which could be integrated into educational institutions in various countries around the world!
If the provision of resources is something that you would like to support, we have some great news for you! As a pre-medical student, you can volunteer in organizations similar to the two discussed above and help ensure that your local community is heard, supported, and cared for. These are the many qualities that your future patients would love to see! In addition, being involved with nonprofit organizations that are tackling previously-neglected topics may not only bring a sense of fulfillment, but can also increase your awareness of societal health, well-being, and disparities.
Are you eager to start looking for your resource provision volunteer opportunity? These opportunities are commonly found through VolunteerMatch and general volunteer-focused websites.
Thank you so much for reading!
Crisis Text Line. (n.d.). About Us. https://www.crisistextline.org/about-us/
Organization for Autism Research. (n.d.). Who We Are. https://researchautism.org/who-we-are/