See Change urges people to avoid derogatory words for mentally ill

Terms such as ‘psycho’ and ‘schizo’ stigmatise ill and may prevent them seeking help

“Although some derogatory words may seem trivial and innocent, they are the building blocks of stigma that may lead someone to conceal a mental health difficulty,” says See Change director John Saunders.

“Although some derogatory words may seem trivial and innocent, they are the building blocks of stigma that may lead someone to conceal a mental health difficulty,” says See Change director John Saunders.

 

People are being encouraged to stop using derogatory terms such as “psycho” and “nutter” to describe people with mental health issues.

A Red C poll, commissioned by See Change, found one in 10 adults surveyed use derogatory words like “psycho” and “schizo” when discussing mental health.

The most common derogatory term linked with mental health difficulties was “psycho”, closely followed by “schizo” with more than one in 10 of all adults surveyed choosing these words.

Interviews were conducted with a nationally representative sample of 1,018 adults aged 18 years or older.

The poll also found that almost all respondents linked words such as depression or anxiety with mental health difficulties. However, there was a significant drop-off in links when it came to words such as “bipolar disorder” and “personality disorders”.

Eating disorders

The results show fewer than one in three adults linked “eating disorders” with mental health difficulties.

The poll was published as the See Change launched its sixth annual Green Ribbon campaign, during which 500,000 green ribbons will be distributed nationwide and free of charge as a symbol to end the stigma surrounding mental health difficulties.

See Change director John Saunders said: “Although some derogatory words may seem trivial and innocent, they are the building blocks of stigma that may lead someone to conceal a mental health difficulty.

“We’re encouraging people to really think about the language they are using and the effects it may have on someone experiencing a mental health difficulty. Stigma often prevents people seeking help and speaking out.”