Have you ever thought about the impact of our use of language? For some, this may be a weird or odd question. For others the question may not even make sense. Language is defined as “a means of communication among the members of a society. In the expression of culture, language is a fundamental aspect.” The need we have to communicate is what lead to the occurrence of language. This strong need highlights the importance of language. Language is how we describe our emotions, experiences and it is a tool we use to understand the world around us. Through the use of language we create and build friendships and relationships.
The language we use to express ourselves also inadvertently expresses how we feel about the topic being discussed. Thus, the way we express ourselves about different issues like violence, abuse, substance misuse, and mental illness can also explain how we feel about the topic. Given some recent events society seems to have become more aware of things like suicide, mental health, therapy, psychological services, and mental illness. It even seems that it has become more apparent to others that everyone is impacted by mental health, it is not just a select few. Studies show that 1 in 5 people in America are diagnosed with a mental illness. Which brings us to a question, I have does the rest of the world realize that having a mental illness or having a mental health issue does not mean that you are “crazy” or that you are “damaged”? The language we use to describe mental health may be increasing our awareness but is it also increasing the stigma?
Have we realized that if we just change the language we use to describe mental health it would change the way it is approached. Have we ever stopped to think that if we were more positive, understanding, and compassionate about mental health there would be less people suffering in silence? A person is a person first and foremost before their diagnosis. So yes, we have heard labels like schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder and depression, but we do not really know what really means. We also do not know a person based on something like mental health diagnosis. Therefore, a person is not “a schizophrenic” or “an addict” or “a borderline”. In actuality, they are people with hopes, dreams, goals, experiences, and feelings just like everyone else. If we start to realize that a mental health diagnosis is just a name of a condition like diabetes or high blood pressure. So yes, maybe some life style changes need to be altered, but it does not mean that all those hopes and dreams go out the window.
It is helpful for us to approach mental health from a person-centered perspective which means we see the person before the diagnosis. This allows us to the person and work towards their recovery rather than just focusing on “symptom management”. Thus in addition to working with a person so that they get the help needed to make the voices go away, we are also working with them to take the necessary steps to achieve their hopes and dreams.
We all have a way of speaking and expressing ourselves that we feel most comfortable or accustomed with, however we should stop and think how is that making others feel? Respectful language emphasizes the person not the label or diagnosis. By being mindful of the language we use, we are demonstrating respect towards a person’s value and worth. Often times, there is a lot of pain associated with mental health, and we as a society should not worsen the pain by being disrespectful and oppressive towards those dealing with such pain.
Some helpful tips DON’T say this instead SAY this:
- That is crazy, insane, or nuts INSTEAD that is odd or bizzare
- He or she is a schizophrenic INSTEAD He or she is living with schizophrenia
- She is so bi-polar INSTEAD she has bi-polar disorder
- He or she is emotionally disturbed INSTEAD say he or she may have a serious emotional condition
- There is something wrong with that person INSTEAD say that person may really be suffering
- He or she is mental ill INSTEAD say he or she is living with a mental health condition
- DON’T say Successful suicide/unsuccessful suicide INSTEAD say attempted or completed a suicide attempt
We as human beings are constantly communicating and using language in order to communicate. With that being said, language is constantly evolving and changing. Therefore, if you are not sure ask someone who may know like a teacher, a parent, or even the person living with a mental health condition. Just like language is constantly evolving and changing so is the field of mental health. There is constantly research being done which results in changes. For example, what was once Autism is now Autism Spectrum Disorder which is different. Regardless of the label, mental health can be very challenging but it does not mean that someone is undeserving of respect. When we realize something may be going on with our mental health we often search for care management services or mental health services to help. When we are seeking help we also must advocate for ourselves and ask our care management services to advocate on our behalf. Living with a mental health condition also means you are deserving of utilizing your voice and being heard. It is not fair to suffer in silence, it is not right to be disrespected, and it is not just to feel ashamed due to your mental health.
Keep in mind :
- An estimated, 1 in 5 adults in the United States which is 43.8 million people experiences mental illness every year
- Approximately 1 in 25 adults live with a serious mental illness that interferes with their ability to function
- Approximately 1 in 5 children ages 13-18 live with a serious mental health issue
- About 1.1% of adults in the United States live with Schizophrenia and 2.6% of adults live with bi-polar disorder
- An estimated 7% of adults have experienced depression in the last year.
So if you or someone you know is in need of psychological or care management services visit rkcaregroup.com