The term ‘mental illness’?

I read an online article this evening on The Age– Psychologists warn on term mentally ill. According to certain opinions in this article, depression and anxiety shouldn’t be referred to as a ‘mental illness.’ Why? “…because it labels them as potentially ”dangerous, crazy and violent”, a group of psychologists has claimed.” (The Age, 2012). Fair point. Just a couple of weeks ago I was watching the TV series Revenge. It was the episode in which Tyler, a conniving, manipulative and scheming character, lost control and smashed things around the house, tied someone to a chair and stabbed him with a knife, then threatened someone with a gun. Which would be fine and does make for an intriguing show. Except, the reason for his behaviour is that he stopped taking his antipsychotic medication to control his mental illness, and is on the run from a psychiatric hospital. Way to perpetuate the stigma of mental illness.

But back to the article. Apparently the term ‘mental illness’ is okay though for people who have bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. As it states in the second paragraph, “The Australian College of Specialist Psychologists believes the term ”mental illness” can put people off seeking treatment and it should only be used for psychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.” (The Age, 2012). And that’s what irritates me. So according to them it’s okay to attach stigma and labels to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, never mind they’re already the ones who cop the brunt of it when it comes to stupid misconceptions like ‘dangerous’ and ‘violent’.

Personally I don’t have that much of an issue with depression and anxiety being called mental illnesses. I prefer to use the term ‘mental health issue’ instead, but I don’t really see a problem with calling it a mental illness when that’s what it is- an illness to do with mental health, rather than physical health.

What do other people think? Do you dislike the term ‘mental illness’?

7 thoughts on “The term ‘mental illness’?

  1. Hello willfindhope,
    I agree with you a mental health issue could be a label but it will take a considerable time to overcome the stigma of mental illness. The portrayal in the media has to be overcome.

  2. Saying that depression and anxiety shouldn’t be labelled as mental illness is missing the point, we should be working to ensure that “mental illness” is not seen as a stigmatising label whether you have depression, anxiety, schizophrenia or any mental illness. The words “mental illness” just describe a type of illness and shouldn’t be any more stigmatising than the words “physical illness”.

  3. Honestly, dis-labelling things like anxiety and depression makes me feel WORSE for being labelled bipolar. I mean, geez, thanks for the stick-it-to-ya people!

    I can understand how they want to make treatment and diagnosis more acceptable, but you just end up perpetuating the stigma for other people, in my opinion.

    Thanks for sharing WFH. Interesting to say the least! 🙂

  4. Not only would that perpetuate the stigma against schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, but it really minimises the effect that various anxiety disorders and depression can have which is pretty damaging. At least Professor Castle pointed that out.

  5. Pingback: This Week In Mentalists – The Pimms O’clock Edition « This Week in Mentalists

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