A person with cancer wouldn’t be put into a looney bin, but that’s where patients with mental illness are said to go. While mental illness is just as real, it is sometimes assumed it’s “all in their heads” and can be controlled with will alone.

Often medicine can and will control many mental illnesses but getting the patient to get past the stigma of getting a diagnosis or treatment is not always easy. There are a lot of reasons to not want a mental illness; however one in five people in BC will be affected by such an illness, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association. We have to eradicate the stigma.

Phrases like “looney bin” and “nuthouse” just perpetuate shame.

The invisibility of mental illness, i.e. no physical evidence, can make it hard to understand. As a result, people often wonder why those suffering don’t work their way out of their situations.

There are things those of us with mental illness can do to help ourselves, but there are no cures, and we cannot just “get over it.” Believe me, if we could, we would!

People sometimes use hurtful words and don’t even realize the damage that is being done. Casual comments can cut deep.

“I have a crazy amount of work to do,” meaning an out of control amount, or “that movie was insane,” are commonplace. Such phrases further alienate those with mental illness.

Choosing kinder words and thinking before we speak can do a world of good.

The word “insane” according to the Collins Essential English Dictionary can mean mentally ill or stupidly irresponsible. No wonder such a word stigmatizes!

We need to talk openly about mental illness to get rid of the stigma, and we can start by choosing our words wisely.

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