Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Let's Talk: Don't Say It, Part 2

In April, we wrote about how the words people use to shame, insult and embarrass one another are forms of oppression, and how being mindful of our language may bring about change, such as reducing sexual assault, hate crimes, human trafficking and domestic violence.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. According to Mental Health America, 1 in 4 people are struggling with anxiety, depression and addiction, yet only half ever seek help. Why is this? In addition to the cost and availability, one of the main reasons is stigma. Many people still consider the need for mental health care as a sign of weakness or failure.

Not all forms of communication are verbal, though. Think about the gesture of someone twirling a finger next to a head. Add to that a whistle and everyone knows you mean something or someone is “crazy.”

Too many people are ashamed to tell anyone they are struggling with depression or other issues that have prompted them to seek counseling. That’s one barrier. “We deal with that stigma on a daily basis,” says Executive Director Ann J. Robison, PhD. Some of the other stigmas that keep people from discussing about the care they receive at MCC include internalized homophobia, substance abuse and HIV status.

Stigma also comes from oppression. One of the ways we can all work on reducing the stigma is being mindful of the expressions we use. How many of these look familiar?

  • “You so CRA-ZY!”
  • “That’s retarded!”
  • “They belong on the ‘short bus.'”
  • “What a moron!”
  • “She’s a psycho-bitch.”
  • “It’s just early-onset Alzheimer’s.”
  • “Dude, that’s demented!”
  • “He was acting totally Schizo.”
  • “That girl has a screw loose.”
  • “My coworker has ‘issues.'”

Underlying these words are shame and judgment. They are tossed around so casually that even healthcare service providers need to watch their language. If we stop categorizing people who need mental/behavioral health services as somehow being weak or damaged, more people may be encouraged to get the help they need to heal, get sober and stay in recovery, and generally improve their quality of life.

Facebook Posts

Latest Posts