World Mental Health Day 2019: Terms to avoid using colloquially
An overwhelming majority today is still unable to comprehend what mental health and the problems related to it are, let alone discerning the needs of the ones living with it.Updated: Oct 10, 2019 06:55 IST
Imagine you’ve been unwillingly banished to a spine-chilling place where you have no idea how one is to live.You sulk every day as you want to get out. You’re desperate. You panic. You cannot talk to anyone about it as you are all by yourself there. You want someone to rescue you but even your loudest screams are unable to help you reach out to someone. You have no idea how long you will have to be there. You’re struggling and despite the struggle, you are mocked for it.
Sounds outrageous, right?
Well, this is how the mind of people living with mental illness is. They live amongst us yet they feel companionless most of the time. It is difficult for them to express themselves openly. Doing even the smallest and easiest household chores is tough for them as they are struggling deep inside.
The optimally talked about yet the least understood subject, mental health still is a taboo for many. Mental health awareness campaigners have been long trying to bust myths about mental health issues but it seems we have a long way to go. An overwhelming majority today is still unable to comprehend what mental health and the problems related to it are, let alone discerning the needs of the ones living with it.
The most baffling part about it is the lack of apathy people have for the ones recuperating from such an illness.
October 10 is World Mental Health Day. On this occasion, we would like to list out a few commonly used terms which are insensitive and apathetic at all.
The most frequently used term which originated and was used in Middle English back in the 1570s was used to describe the diseased and ill then. The ones who had dementia were referred to as crazy. The perception of the word changed over time.
Today, crazy is used to define something awe-inspiring. Like, ‘The youth today is absolutely crazy!’
This word is used for a person with an unsound mind. The word is derived from the Latin word insanus. In the 1550s, it was used for mentally ill patients. Insane was a part of medical terminology then and its usage was restricted to medical personnel only.
But today, insane can be anything which is uber impressive and unusual. Like, ‘That show was insane, man!’, ‘Look at the guy he looks insanely pretty.’
Psycho is the shorthand of a mental disorder named Psychosis. It is a condition which affects the way one’s brain reponds to both internal and external stimuli, thus affecting the person’s overall behaviour. It causes them to lose touch with reality. One might hear, see, sense or believe things that aren’t real.
But ‘psycho’ is callously used by people to refer to someone who causes them even the slightest distress. For instance, “That girl is a complete pyscho!”
The word for used for mentally sick patients in 1840s. Over the years, it’s meaning and usage got modified and people started using it for expressing their craze for something. ‘Be nuts about something’ and ‘Going nuts over’ are two phrasal variations of the word.
Though it still carries the same meaning, it is profoundly used for trivial acts done by people.
The word was used in the 1560s to describe people with capricious behaviour. Later in the 1780s, it was used in certain advertisements to describe people with supposedly abnormal looks or growth, like people with albinism and bearded women.
The problem is not with words but with their misuse. Mental health complications cannot be seen. They can only be felt by the ones either living with it or the ones living with people who have it. By using these term in our casual conversations we add to the trauma without even realising.
Let’s be a little responsible and resolve to avoid these terms for anyone colloquially.
First Published: Oct 10, 2019 06:54 IST