Think about your mental health word choices
It is hard to miss how much attention and awareness around understanding mental health has increased recently.
It is now far easier to seek support or counselling from professionals and to have a mental illness recognized as a serious issue that can affect one’s ability to perform academically or in a workplace, which is absolutely well overdue.
I question the impact that the constant circulation of articles and posts about mental health awareness has made. I have found that although it may be easier to talk about, it’s also become harder to be heard.
Mental health has become such a widely discussed subject that perhaps people have become desensitized to the topic, causing them to not acknowledge the potential severity.
A whopping 20 per cent of people live with mental illnesses, but what does this mean for the rest?
It is very important to recognize the difference between experiencing the regular emotions and stresses of life versus experiencing a mental illness.
Using hyperbolic statements like “I’m so OCD” when you like having your things in order, “this is so depressing,” or jokes about “feeling suicidal” need to stop.
Of course I understand that people don’t make these comments with the intention of hurting anyone, but it’s important to be cautious of who you may be affecting.
Not only can they be seen as trigger words or be considered very offensive when used in the wrong context, but using the words incorrectly can take their meaning away for someone who is actually living with a mental illness.
Imagine going through a difficult situation and needing to share and get support. Then, you don’t know how to express your emotions because the words you need to explain your feelings no longer carry the weight that you needed them to.
Words that take every ounce of a person’s strength to utter can be received so casually by someone who doesn’t understand the weight that they carry.
If whenever you have an assignment deadline approaching or a relationship problem and you say “this is so depressing,” how can your friend come to you and say, “I’m feeling depressed” and feel as though they are being taken seriously?
If you say, “this gives me anxiety” about each thing that stresses you out, how is your friend that has panic attacks and can’t sleep at night going to approach you about their anxiety and feel heard?
In a time where we are working towards a greater understanding and support of mental illness, it is crucial that we start with ourselves.
It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that people feel comfortable bringing their struggles to light.
Always be cautious about the words you use.
You may be taking them away from someone who really needs them.