How should we talk about mental health?

Mental health suffers from a major image problem. One in every four people experiences mental health issues — yet more than 40 percent of countries worldwide have no mental health policy. Across the board it seems like we have no idea how to talk about it respectfully and responsibly.

Stigma and discrimination are the two biggest obstacles to a productive public dialogue about mental health; indeed, the problem seems to be largely one of communication. So we asked seven mental health experts: How should we talk about mental health? How can informed and sensitive people do it right – and how can the media do it responsibly?


One of my housemates got a hold of the name and phone number of the guy I was buying my car from. She would call him and talk on and on in typically mentally ill fashion. The car salesman asked me if I knew her, and I said, in a surprisingly desperate voice, “Yes, I live with her.” I added that she is very lonely. I didn’t say anything else but I think I might have been more helpful if I’d said “Yes, she has a severe mental illness.” in a friendly voice so as to diffuse the tension. He was frustrated because she wasn’t making sense as normies depend on sensible conversation to communicate.

Yes, making sense is important.

was it provoked mental illness or a comen illness with up stress out by meds. this are too they tend to run from when talking on TV. there are others like the despert poor seeking some need in there life that comes about wrongly and my ansewer is what normal field the need to push him or her over there limits. Ps there are a lot of talk but few that are nice.


There is currently a big push by the uk media to talk about mental illness.

But so far I have only heard people with depression/anxiety or eating disorders on TV. No look in for sz.


Well it would be nice if they didn’t just talk about us when people get shot, that would be a good start.


I noticed when i’m manic I talk really fast, and I don’t mean to. My dad got upset with me because I talked really fast while talking to him a few days ago. He kept saying, “what!?” finally I got it out that his brother was in the hospital had to have surgery after a heart attack.

I think being respectful of the mentally ill is crucial to a dialogue. Its an illness, not a person.


We’re not a subgroup who are demanding respect. We’re people who deserve it.


I have to hide it from my sister in law and brother in law. They already don’t understand mental illness but if I disclose anything about my illness they could take away my nieces and nephews.

in a tin foil room…:scream: ( i am joking people !?! )
take care :alien:

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I can tell people that I’ve been depressed and suicidal (as if it’s only in the past) when I want to convey understanding…I sometimes mention my social anxiety to explain why I didn’t do something or will not be going somewhere…But schizophrenia is a much misunderstood condition and takes the conversation in a completely different direction, a direction no one else I know has walked. The level of disconnect and the immediate scrambling of words is a unique circumstance; not for amateurs, so to speak. I have only told a handful of people and would like to tell everyone, to be honest, but telling people I have sz is nothing like disclosing depression, which too many people believe they have anyway, or even “my” Bulimia, which is also a tad more common. For some, it’s akin to telling them I’m a potential murderer, and no amount of explanation on my part will make that impression go away.


I think when talking about mental illness there should be some understanding with regards to the fact that we are people first. It seems to me anytime mental illness is mentioned people tend to overlook some of us sufferers had regular lives before the onset of mental illness. It gets tough to be known as the “sick” person in my family. Not every person with a mental illness is a drug addict. I do not mean to be divisive but it just seems like so many think I got schizophrenia paranoia because of drugs when it it is simply untrue, sadly it runs in the family.

Unfortunately I must have been a mean squirrel in another life or something… I’m kidding of course.

Well the media, for starters, could stop mentioning in the very first sentence of a story that a person who committed a crime had a mental illness. I saw a newspaper story in town, about someone who had murdered someone, and the very first sentence literally said “[name] had always been suffering from schizophrenia.” How does that even relate to the story?


I hear you schizofriendia. Saying I have schizophrenia is like putting a sign on my forehead that says, “possible deranged lunatic”. It is saddening to have to equate to such simply for being alive and having a hereditary illness. That “hereditary” part saddens me too.


I’ve dealt with that a few times. I told someone from my hometown, that I’ve known for years, that I have schizophrenia. Next thing I know they deleted me on Facebook. This, however, comes as no surprise to me though, because Salem, IL is the cesspool of the human genome and I’m just a mutation that came out of it. :stuck_out_tongue:

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Hahah I know the feeling. Even my cousins hardly contact me anymore. It happens I guess. I’m one of those, “don’t invite crazy cousin (insert name here)” at family gatherings.

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I have one friend who never designates me a mod on his online stuff ever, but just about everyone else we both know he gives the privileges to, probably because he’s honestly scared of what I may do with it. I wouldn’t abuse it, but it kinda insults me a little, but not enough for me to just confront him on it out of nowhere.

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I hate stigma, it’s basically a problem of ignorance. There’s no easy solution, but you know I participated in a Stigma Stompers parade down 13 blocks of St. Louis a few years back and the theme that they decided on was “Talk About It”.

To my mind one of the problems are that the majority of humans are actually, though capable of amazing things as a group, actually very simple, especially when it comes to social thought. I’ve always found people only able to hold so many concepts in their minds before it’s just too much to bother to think about. I’ve always seen black and white thinking as a common problem in the majority’s thought as well.
Having gone from socially gifted to a loner who mainly watched on by the time of the third grade, I see myself as having at least some unique insight. I see it on the grand scale so much, either or thinking, black and white thinking, and I believe it melts down to our species not originally existing in or having much time to evolve living in the expansive societies that really haven’t existed for very long in an evolutionary sense. We’re village and tribe dwelling creatures when it comes down to it. And what I’ve read of how those cultures thought of even the closest neighboring but differing tribe or village supports this some.

Of course the freaking media doesn’t help, but then what is seen in the microcosm is reflected in the macro.

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