Do I have I have a mental Illness or mental health problems?
We don’t say ‘leg problems’ when someone breaks a leg.
We don’t say ‘epilepsy problems’ when someone has a seizure.
We don’t say ‘brain problems’ when someone has a stroke
We don’t say ‘cancer problems’ when someone has a tumour.
But, we do say ‘mental health problems’ when someone has a mental illness. I wonder why?
Is it a case of trying to be politically correct? Or, are we collectively scared to say ‘mental illness’ in case someone takes it as an insult? The whole idea of the term ‘mental illness’ being an insult seems to stem from the stigma of the past and that stigma needs to be stamped out for good. It’s not a bad thing to have a mental illness, nor should it be shameful, just as it is not bad or shameful to have a stroke or diabetes.
We can have problems with our mental health in the same way we can have problems with our physical health, but I believe calling a serious mental illness ‘mental health problems’ is wrong! It is belittling to the seriousness of the illness and the complications that sufferers have to endure.
If we really can’t call a spade, a spade, then how about compromising with the phrase ‘mental health condition’ instead?
This blog discusses terminology used in the UK. Other countries may have different approaches to mental illness and the language they use to describe it. I believe in the US; they use the phrase ‘the mentally ill.’
How do you feel about this? Do you have a mental illness, problems, or condition? What language do you feel is more appropriate for the 21st Century?