port of harlem magazine
Theo Hodge, Jr. M.D.
Words Matter: How to Communicate About Mental Illness

Oct 19 – Nov 01, 2023

mental health

Many celebrities are becoming more comfortable with publicly sharing their mental illnesses. This helps advocate and destigmatize the medical condition that 1 in 5 U.S. adults live with. But there is still work to be done, including how society communicates about mental illness.
Don’t correct their language choices if they use (insenstivve terms). Instead, model preferred word choices when responding to them.

The medical diagnosis is defined as being in distress or having issues with functioning including socially, occupationally, personally and/or within family dynamics. Signs and symptoms may include changes in one’s emotions and personality, anger, isolating tendencies, absences in self-care, lack of hopefulness and feeling overwhelmed. Barriers to people getting help are often due to the myths, stigmas and inaccurate stereotypes that are placed on them by their environment, family members, friends or themselves.

“Inaccurate perceptions of those with mental illness include thinking they are incompetent, lazy, dangerous or weak,” says , a nurse practitioner at Aurora Health Care. “An example would be if your friend or family member was diagnosed with cancer or heart disease. You wouldn’t give them the above labels but would instead call them strong or warriors for getting help and going through treatment.”

The other extreme is self-diagnosing yourself based on online information. This can cause more harm by self-diagnosing incorrectly. Instead, you should seek professional help to effectively and safely diagnose and treat your possible mental illness.

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