“What a psycho”
Lets be honest here; It’s lazy and ignorant to use a mental illness to negatively describe someone. They’re a myriad of words you can use to describe a situation, or person. It doesn’t have to have anything to do with mental illness. What do you mean when you say these phrases? Are you correlating mental illness with badness, danger, evil? Do you describe people that disagree with you as being mentally ill? These assumptions or connections to mental illness help no one. It doesn’t improve your argument or sufficiently get your point across. In fact, you’re giving the person you’re arguing against an excuse for their behaviour. In the end, it just makes you look foolish.
It can break someone down to hear those words used that way when they’re struggling. When I hear these terms used negatively it breaks my heart. It shows a complete lack of understanding of the effect your words have on vulnerable people. Those who are some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Imagine yourself with a mental illness. How would you feel if something you lived with everyday was used in a negative way? Used so freely, brazenly out in the open in common language. It would hurt you. It would have a profound impact on how you valued yourself, and how you felt others saw you.
So what words can you use instead?
There are many more. I’m a firm believer in using the actual adjective you mean when describing something. When people say there isn’t much stigma left surrounding mental health, I always direct them back to how we all use language. How it’s ingrained in our colloquialisms to call someone “crazy” or “mental”. How casually these terms are used, and the little thought that goes into what we’re saying. How using these words effects how those with mental illnesses are treated. Using these words so negatively keeps the people that need help hidden.
Language is a powerful tool. Use it sensitively and with love.