I find it sad how placing ‘issue’ or ‘crisis’ on the end of a perfectly innocent word or words can completely change the connotation from positive, or at least neutral, to negative. And depending on the emphasis you use when mentioning the said word(s), can give them even more weight. For instance, mental health. On its own it represents something quite innocuous; ‘a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being’.
But, if someone mentions that a person they know is ‘having mental health issues’ or ‘in a mental health crisis’, a black rain cloud of
doom and fear can appear out of nowhere, threatening to overpower the way the conversation continues going forward.
It can close some conversations down completely. I have a good friend who is soon to be qualified as a counsellor, who said to me recently that she doesn’t really like the term ‘mental health’. I get what she’s saying. I am sure it’s mainly because of the unhelpful connections our brains now make as a result of all the publicity recently regarding this topic.
Let’s just remember that none of us are likely to go through our lives unscathed by some type of mental health ‘issue’, we will most
likely have first or second-hand experience of a mental health ‘crisis’, either ourselves or a with loved one during our lives.
The statistics are clear: One in six New Zealand adults have been diagnosed with a common mental disorder at some time in their lives.
This includes depression, bipolar disorders and anxiety disorders. In fact, the 2016/17 NZ Health survey found that ‘nearly 8 percent of adults had experienced psychological distress in the past four weeks’. That should properly blast any social stigma surrounding mental health right out of the water, but unfortunately we’re not there yet.
So please, please – let’s make sure we are heading in the right direction when we use this term and not be secretive, using hushed tones, putting our words in verbal italics for greater dramatic effect. Let’s take the sting out of so many people’s experiences and help to normalise what is really just another aspect of our humanity.
Try to take the time to check out the findings of the survey - click on this link: https://www.cph.co.nz/your-health/mental-illness/