Mental Health Week 2022 (May 2 to 8) is all about empathy, which is defined as the ability to share someone else’s feelings or experiences by imagining what it would be like to be in their position. Ahead of this year’s Mental Health Week, Babbel, the language learning platform, wants to create greater understanding for those suffering from mental illness. Creating understanding is about fostering empathy through language, helping to bridge the language gaps between individuals and communities. Words you didn’t even think might be offensive, like “crazy” or “I’m depressed” can actually be more harmful than it seems when it comes to mental health. Here are some tips on how you might foster more inclusive language around mental illness, in place of using what can be triggering language for those on the receiving end. —Vita Daily
Avoid terms such as “crazy” or “nuts”: The use of these terms can make people feel isolated and offended. Avoid using the term “psycho” or “insane”. Use words that better describe the situation.
Avoid saying “I’m addicted” when referring to something you casually enjoy. Addiction is a neuropsychological disorder caused by the persistent and compulsive use of substances. “I love” or I enjoy” are great replacements.
Avoid using the word “seniors” or “elderly”: The use of these words suggests that members of the group are not part of society, but rather a separate group. Instead, if you’re describing the older demographic, we suggest using “the older population” or “persons 65 years or older”.
Avoid saying “I’m depressed” or “that’s depressing” when referring to something that is fleetingly negative. Misuse of this term makes it harder for those suffering from clinical depression to properly articulate how they are feeling, often being misunderstood as having a bad day or being mildly sad.
Avoid using terms like OCD to describe someone’s attention to detail. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is far more serious and can be debilitating to those who suffer from the illnesses compulsions or obsessive behaviours.
Avoid describing yourself as an “Insomniac” or “Narcoleptic” when referring to being tired. This word can be triggering to individuals who experience sleep disorders. Some signs that you might be emotionally drained can be found in the article here.