How your language can affect mental health?

Language and mental health

Language is a structured system of communication used by humans, based on speech and gesture, sign, and often, writing. Mental Health is a state when people realize their abilities. They can cope with everyday stresses, work productively and can contribute positively to their community.

Now, you would wonder, what is the role of language in maintaining mental health? Language shapes how you see the world and vice versa. If used constructively, however, language can substantially affect people’s lives. There is a strong relationship between concurrent language ability and mental health outcomes.

Language, its importance and implications

Language plays a vital role in expressing your thoughts, ideas, and feelings to the world and shapes how you see the world. Your choice of words and the meanings you attach to them have an indomitable effect on how you view mental health and display your beliefs & strengths. Despite the progress of humanity has made in the recent past, certain language sensationalizes mental health and reinforces stigma. This kind of language is often the reason people shy away from seeking treatment.

The language you use to describe mental health does matter. One area, systematically stigmatized for decades uses discriminatory language. People have grown up in biased societies finding terms such as “loonie”, “psycho”, “schizo”, and “crazy” perfectly acceptable. Language changes concerning mental health can have harmful implications, particularly for people who have a mental illness, thus implying that their situation is unimportant. If used constructively, however, language can substantially affect people’s lives.

In the perspective of well-being and mental health, we can interpret negative words as condescending, stigmatizing, and isolating. At the same time, positive words convey empathy, dignity, and hope. Using respectable language can go a long way in combating the stigma associated with mental illnesses. It can encourage more people to seek treatment and stop suffering alone. One way to change the way we talk is to see someone with a mental illness first as a person rather than their illness. An example would choose to say, “This person has bipolar disorder” instead of saying “This person is bipolar.”

To ensure good mental health, one can practice yoga as well. 

Significance of words

As a language, words have power too. They can destroy and create at will. You can either constructively use this power with encouraging words or use despairing words destructively. Words & language have power and energy to help, heal, hinder, hurt, harm, humiliate, and humble. Your choice of words can also make the difference between someone opening up to you to share their troubles or someone closing their heart, never wanting to share their worries with you.

Words do hurt. Spoken intentionally, hurtful words can wound deeply. While negative language stops people from opening up, positive language encourages a dialogue. Using words such as psycho, for example, is extremely hurtful and damaging the person with a mental condition, as it serves to other them as someone abnormal. Such words form the cornerstone of bullying and become the cause of cracks in marital harmony and scars of longtime friendships.

Every positive word you read, write or speak can have a very direct influence on your physical body. The more you use and hear such words or phrases, the more it becomes normal and the more power it has over you. While speaking with a person who has a mental health condition, your language should be accepting and respectful. The message you convey should be clear, positive, and show that you see that person as an individual. Do focus on the person, not the mental health condition.

Language and mental health

Avoiding Myths and Trivialization

Myths about mental illness are common in our societies. You must have heard things like mental health is perpetual, they are all same, people with mental health problems are violent, and that mental illness is more prevalent in some communities. A change in the way we talk about mental health helps in combating stereotypes against mentally ill individuals so that we readily accepted them in society.

Over the years, it has also become extremely common to use mental health terminology to describe common situations. Examples of this would say “I’m depressed” when you’re having a bad day or saying “I’m OCD about this” if you’re very particular about something. Such usage appears insensitive and trivializes the experiences of people living with serious mental illnesses. This kind of trivializing also needs to be avoided.

Conclusion

Language is an obstacle a motivator to make discrimination acceptable. Most times, we respond to words without even realizing it as our language is emotionally charged. It is not just how we speak about problems and diagnoses that are important. Let’s remember, 1 person in 6 experiences a lot of distress or mental health problems every week. Thus, being thoughtful and respectful, and thoughtful in our language related to mental health can work wonders for the brain and emotions of the people around us.

The importance of language in mental health care is such that if used constructively, it can substantially affect people’s lives. You cannot change the understanding of social circumstances that expose us to the risk of mental health unless your language evolves. Our conversations around mental health need to develop in a way that centers on the person who is suffering, without making them seem abnormal or scary. Language also needs to break down the stigma against getting mental health treatment so that we can all move towards a healthier society.

This post is part of Blogchatter’s CauseAChatter

© Ruchie Verma.

Copyright Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Ruchi Verma

Certified parenting teen practitioner, multiple Award winner, mother of two active kids believes in sharing the right source of information to readers which could help them in every possible way!!

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23 Comments

  1. This is much needed. Using the right language is so important when it comes to mental health. It helps create a safe space for everyone and reduces the stigma.

  2. Nice that someone spoke about this. Language is a powerful tool even for mental health.

  3. This is a very important topic. We often talk about mental health as a whole but small elements related to this topic are equally important. Language , for example, has a big impact on someone’s mental health. How we speak, what we speak affects the other person.

  4. I agree ruchi, words and language have immense power and we should use it wisely, it is common in our society that people use psycho and other improper words for people mental illnesses and this could hurt them deeply. I am glad you have talked about this important topic with this post.

  5. This is Most important topic. And thank you for sharing your valuable information about it. Using the right language is most important because how we speak affects the others also.

  6. Words have the power to comfort and hurt and must always be chosen wisely. Mental health does depend on how and what people talk about us.

  7. Using the right language is most important because how we speak affects the others also.thanx to sharing this?

  8. Mental health is a very sensitive issue and needs to be handled accordingly. Insensitive language can strongly impact mental health. One of the reasons why mental health issues are often pushed under the carpet is the insensitive language and its fear.

  9. Sometune what your dsy doesn’t matter but how your say and the kind of words you use matters more. The reason being words have power to make or break any relationship. So be mindful in choosing right kind of words.

  10. Glad you wrote this post, Ruchi. Mental Health and everything related need a new vocabulary to make it a more acceptable form of feeling. The right words get the right results.

  11. This is so true. Language plays a very important role. We should use our words very wisely. It should be nice and doesn’t hurt anyone

  12. Ruchie this is such a beautiful and well-constructed post on words and their effect on mental health. We often miss on such small things but it does show a lot about our mental health and even it hurts others around.

  13. People.should be responsible while talking. As you said the terms psycho, loony and all have been trivialised. People seldom think how it will affect someone who has mental health issues.

  14. Sometimes knowingly or unknowingly when someone says It’s something which sounds normal to them but Can impact you mentally mentally because the opposite person didn’t think well before uttering the words out. Being wise with your words is very important.

  15. I agree with you, language play a great role. Language can win someone heart or hurt badly , humiliate anyone.

  16. This is so very true and much needed currently. using the right language is very important when it comes to dealing with mental wellness. Very well explained

  17. The Other Brain Inc

    Language can make or break a deal. Words truly have the power mightier than the sword and so we need to use them judiciously. Mental health is surely get affected by improper use. Thanks for penning this informative piece.

  18. Absolutely we usually ignore what we are speaking irrespective that it can heart someone or affect someone mental health. That’s very helpful tips

  19. I read somewhere, that words leave a longer effect than actions and absolutely agree with this. We have to be more aware of the words, tone, language when we speak to others. Although, I didn’t know it affected mental health too. Thank you for sharing this 🙂

  20. This is so true. Words should be chosen with care. It can be very hurtful when certain words are spoken out and can play a very negative impact.

  21. I am a huge advocate of choosing the right words. Mental health issues are at an all-time high these days as everyone is working from home. Our language and the way we express our thoughts can either make or break someone’s day. We should never use words that tend to cause hurt to others.

  22. I absolutely believe in choosing the word wisely, using wrong words at the wrong time can adversely effect the mental health. This is a very valuable post for all mental health enthusiasts.

  23. Words affects us deeply . I agreed to that words and language have immense power and we should use it wisely specially for mental health

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