Five Ways You’re Shaming Mental Illness and May Not Know It

May 18, 2018

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News


Language that negatively stereotypes or makes light of mental illness can be harmful to those who experience it. Experts recommend avoiding the misuse of mental health terms such as “depressed” or “OCD,” and not using hurtful terms such as “psycho” or “crazy.” To avoid labeling people with mental illness, use person-first language, such as “person with schizophrenia,” instead of “schizophrenic.” Experts also warn that linking mental illness to acts of violence, such as mass shootings, perpetuates inaccurate stereotypes since most people with mental health issues are not violent. “We all have a role to play in reducing and eliminating mental health stigma,” said Dan Reidenberg, executive director of Suicide Awareness Voices of Education. “If you hear it, correct it. If you read it, show it to others and explain to them why it is wrong. If you think it, look in the mirror and ask yourself, ‘Do I really want to be someone who discriminates against another person who is living with a brain disease?’”

Spark Extra! Learn how to talk about suicide.