7 Terms You Should Never Use in Reference to Mental Illness

7 Terms You Should Never Use in Reference to Mental Illness #beverlyhills #beverlyhillsmagazine #mentalillness #substanceusedisorder #mentalhealth #addiction #behavioralhealthtreatment
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It is all too easy to use what you think are light-hearted or well-intentioned terms to describe someone who has a mental illness. If you call someone “crazy”, for instance, it is hardly likely to be received well, even if they understand you were not intending to offend when using that term.

People who are seeking help for their mental health problems should be supported and respected for making such a brave and positive decision. Undergoing behavioral health treatment is a positive step to take and it is unlikely to be considered supportive if you use what could be perceived as a derogatory description of their current state of mental health.

Here is a look at terms that should be avoided when used in reference to mental illness.

Use the broad term for mental illness

The key point to remember is that mental health is a far-reaching condition that affects people in all sorts of different ways and to varying degrees of severity. That’s why it is best not to use the term “mental illness” so broadly.

It is far better to broaden your language to say someone has a mental health issues. This acknowledges that not all mental illnesses are the same.

Avoid using a negative context when discussing mental illness

When you describe someone as suffering from mental problem or being a victim of mental illness it is a tone of language that suggests the person is unwell or unhappy. It is considered far kinder to describe someone as living with mental health disorder.

Far too often, terms used to describe mental health issues imply the person is suffering or is weak because of their condition. Using the more positive term of saying that someone is living with mental illness can help create a more affirmative tone.

Avoid describing someone as being a mentally ill person

Using a term like this or saying someone is a person who is mentally ill is too one-dimensional. It is more respectful to describe someone as a person with a mental health illness as it avoids stigmatizing the whole person.

Crazy or schizophrenic should never be in your vocabulary

Either of these terms is blatantly derogatory and should not be used when talking about someone with a mental illness.

There is no clear definition of normal

When you describe someone as displaying abnormal behavior you are making an assumption that you can clearly define what normal means. It can be hurtful to a person living with mental disorder to be described as not displaying normal behavior.

Avoid describing someone as an addict

Mental health and addiction can often go hand in hand. When you describe someone as an addict or a user this is suggesting you are apportioning blame for their problems. It is better to suggest someone has a substance use disorder.

Don’t say that someone has committed suicide

When someone has sadly taken their own life it is obviously a distressing situation for all concerned. It doesn’t help to describe someone as having committed suicide. A better choice of language would be to say that someone died by suicide.

These subtle but important adjustments to the language we use in reference to mental illness could make a big difference and help someone feel more supported.

Martin Maina
Martin Maina is a professional writer and blogger who uses his expertise, skills, and personal experience in digital marketing to craft content that resonates with audiences. Deep down, he believes that if you cannot do great things, then you can do small things in a great way. To learn more, you can connect with him online.
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