Inappropriate language adds to mental health stigma and stops people from seeking help

Commenting on the Danny Rose transfer story, Dr Antonis Kousoulis, Director at the Mental Health Foundation, said:

“Inappropriately used words can be so damaging.  Generations of people have grown up in societies that have found terms like “crazy” “psycho” “schizo” “loonie” and “nutter” acceptable.  We must change this.  Some say that it is practice and not language that matters.  But words are a barrier to help-seeking and a can make discrimination sound acceptable.  

“How we talk about mental ill health is critical.  One in six of us is experiencing high levels of distress or a common mental health problem every week, so being respectful and thoughtful in our mental health related language could do wonders for the emotions of people around us.

“Offensive language words can trap people in a vicious cycle of thinking that they’re “suffering something” that they really shouldn’t be – or worse, that this “something” is defining them as lesser members of their communities. 

“Danny Rose has been very brave in talking about his depression, and for speaking out about the insulting behaviour of a football club asking to test him in case he was “crazy”.  Football clubs, like employers, have a responsibility to understand that times and also language are changing. 

“During Mental Health Awareness Week we should all take time to consider the impact of such offensive language and to be more thoughtful in the way we speak about mental health.  There are still too many young people who don't feel able to ask for help because they fear being misunderstood.  We are encouraged  that people like Danny Rose are helping to change that.”

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