Language has value. Especially when addressing mental health. Using discriminatory or stigmatizing language has far-reaching and long-lasting consequences for individuals, their families, their communities, and society as a whole.
According to the experts, using suitable language is not a matter of linguistic dexterity or political correctness, but rather fundamental respect for the integrity and dignity of others.
Words are essential for eradicating the negative stigmas associated with mental illness and its implications in the present and future.
When stigma is present, people resist getting care, which could save their lives, according to research. This is also true during military conflicts, which frequently have direct and severe effects on the mental health and wellbeing of those involved.
Conflict-affected individuals' mental health and psychosocial needs must be addressed as the global focus on mental health increases. Since 2007, when it employed its first mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) adviser, the ICRC has worked to guarantee that persons affected by conflict and other circumstances of violence have access to mental healthcare that meets generally accepted standards.
This year's World Mental Health Day is an occasion for the International Committee of the Red Cross to highlight what not to say while discussing mental health.
Committed suicide: We should say "suicide death" or "died of suicide" to avoid discriminating against a person who lost their struggle with an illness and died as a result.
An individual is "schizophrenic": This equates to labeling a person based on their mental ailment. Instead, write: the individual has been diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Drug addict, drug abuser, drug user, alcoholic, and intoxicated: Addiction is a persistent but treatable medical illness. Using person-first terminology indicates that the issue is a disease rather than the individual. Avoid phrases that have negative connotations, punitive attitudes, and individual blame. Choose one of the alternatives:
Mental patient: Comparable terms include maniac, disturbed, psycho, insane, and mad. This language is insulting and rude, and it reinforces discrimination. The language of preference is:
Therefore, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to mental health care, as every individual has unique requirements. It is also essential to keep in mind that people are resilient, especially in times of crisis. MHPSS is not passive; it is active, respecting people's autonomy and bolstering their resilience in the face of misfortune by enabling individuals to restart functional lives.
You can assist in promoting mental health by: