otrbristol | 6th October 2015

World Mental Health Day: My mental health is not an adjective!

On World Mental Health Day, Off the Record Bristol’s youth campaigning group Mentality are going to launch a new campaign with a huge social media push, asking people to discuss how our language around mental health may be adding to stigma.

Mentality have created five videos, with corresponding posters, and will be aiming to go into every school in Bristol getting people to discuss this topic. The campaign is called:


…and here’s why…

1. Trivialising something serious

When you use a mental illness as an adjective (e.g. “That’s so OCD!”) you are actually trivialising a serious mental illness. By using a mental illness as an adjective for something that isn’t actually that mental health issue, you’re equating it with the other. Of course, OCD is much more than having your pens in a specific order and someone with OCD struggles a lot more than by just having to be ‘neat’. By using OCD (or any other mental illness) in this way you are making it seem trivial, unimportant and not as bad as having the illness really is.

2. Offensive

Using mental health illnesses as adjectives for something negative is essentially comparing someone with that mental illness with something negative or less important. Obviously this is offensive and doesn’t make the person feel very good about themselves. This also encourages a culture of secrecy around mental health and stops people feeling like they can be open without fear of judgement.

3. Increasing stigma and misconceptions

Mental illnesses being used as adjectives adds to the stigma and misconception that surrounds mental health. By using mental illnesses to mean things that they don’t mean you are spreading misinformation and creative negative stereotypes around things that are not negative. You are also teaching incorrect opinions to other people and making the task of correcting the misinformation even harder.

4. Enforcing negative stereotypes

Using mental illnesses as negative adjectives enforces negative stereotypes about the people who have the illness that are almost always untrue. This means that people feel judged, and are less likely to open up about their illnesses.

5. Preventing people getting help

By creating a cloud of misinformation, negative connotations and stigma around mental health by using mental illnesses incorrectly as adjectives you are stopping people from getting help. It means people don’t know what a mental health illness really is and don’t want to associate themselves with it.

Below you can see a sneak peek at Mentality’s campaign by downloading the posters. Use the QR codes or check back to this link on World Mental Health Day (10th October) to watch the videos.

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