Mental Health Matters: 8 Stigmatizing Phrases to Stop Using
While society tends to tread lightly around language concerning disabilities, race, or religion, it seems that we do not apply the same sensitivity to language involving mental health. For example, while you might be a little taken aback by someone who uses the word “retarded” to refer to a poor decision, you likely wouldn’t think twice about someone calling a peculiar behavior “crazy” or saying out loud that someone’s “OCD” [obsessive-compulsive disorder] is the cause for an orderly office.
Show respect and consideration for those experiencing mental health conditions by avoiding these common stigmatizing phrases we hear in our daily conversations:
‘I’m So OCD.’
All too often people say “I’m so OCD” when referring to simple habits they may have regarding organization, such as arranging books a certain way on a bookshelf or keeping one’s own environment immaculately clean. True obsessions and compulsions can be quite debilitating, involving persistent, unwanted thoughts, rituals, and behaviors, all of which are out of a person’s control.
As many as 27% of people experience some form of obsessive-compulsive behavior. By using the term to describe tidiness, we popularize the experience and make it appear less severe than it actually can be. Next time you find yourself tempted to say someone else is being OCD or claim it as an explanation for your own behavior, consider how you might more accurately share your observation or insight.
‘I Can’t Focus; It’s My ADD.’ …
It’s not uncommon to hear people refer to themselves as ADHD or ADD when they are inattentive or easily distracted. Today’s high-tech world seems to be characterized by ever-shrinking attention spans, and it seems that people are always fiddling with their smart phones and jumping from one topic to another. However, this is not the same thing as attention-deficit hyperactivity. More.
Reality check: In Solzhenitsyn’s novel Cancer Ward, there was a big banner hung over a hospital’s stairs saying “Patients, do not talk about your illnesses!”
The reality is that using terms from psychiatry in everyday life normalizes the illness. We all have a slight tendency to something or other; for a few people, it interferes with function and enjoyment. They should feel much less alone when it isn’t an “illness” label.
But would that suit the paid purveyors of cures and political activism on the subject?
See also: Asshat U Rebels want “White Christmas” banned “Racist” song, you see.
What kind of jobs will these junior jackboots get when they graduate from We’ll Fix U?
Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose