People tend to call others things like a “schizo” or “I’m so bipolar” without understanding that it is offensive to those diagnosed with those disorders. It can be offensive and minimizing to those who have schizophrenia or ADHD who cannot always control their symptoms. It is important to be careful with the words you use when describing how you are feeling or how you joke around, as these offensive sayings keep the stigma of mental illness at large.
What We Need to Stop Saying
Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder that can make a person hear or see things that are not there. Calling someone a “schizo” — whether they have schizophrenia or not — can send the wrong message to people that having schizophrenia is something to be ashamed of or hide. Misusing the name of a disorder like this can make it harder for a person to admit they have schizophrenia and get help. Bipolar disorder is when you have unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and concentration. While someone may call someone “bipolar” if they feel they are moody, it can be minimizing to people who are bipolar who cannot help it when their moods switch.
Telling Someone to Stop
If someone is using a mental illness term to describe their feelings, it is important to call that person out to show how much they hurt you. Speak honestly and nonjudgmentally to that person about why that comment was offensive. You can send that person a list of resources about that particular mental illness to show them how serious it is. Instead of assuming that person is trying to hurt you, just tell yourself that person does not know better to avoid that person getting defensive. Let that person know that instead of using mental illness terms, just describe exactly how you are feeling.
How to Eliminate Offensive Language From Your World
The next time someone feels like using mental health terms to describe their feelings, try to think before speaking. Always assume that there are people around you who have a mental illness who could be affected by your words. If more people are careful not to use mental health terms to describe their feelings, fewer people would be offended, and the mental health stigma would lessen.
Calling someone a name or comparing how you feel to someone with a mental illness can be very offensive to those living with one. It is names or phrases like these that can increase and perpetuate mental health stigma and prevent seeking treatment. At Alta Loma, we understand how hard it is to have a mental illness like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. We are here to help you. Our transformative treatment center in Georgetown, Texas, can provide you with tools like individualized therapy, life, and coping skills education, and more. Please call (866) 457-3843 to learn more.