“I’m so OCD” is a phrase you can hear when someone is tidying up a mess.
Or there’s calling someone “schizo” for being all over the place.
However, the use of these phrases are something that should fade out of everyday vocabulary.
This past semester, I took the class “Abnormal Psychology” where I learned about mental illnesses. With May being Mental Health Awareness Month, it is important to have discussions about reducing the stigmas surrounding people with mental health issues.
It would never be accepted to have someone say “I’m so asthma” when they’re feeling out of breath. Mental illnesses are not adjectives; they are nouns of serious diagnoses that are just as real as a physical illnesses.
Mental health issues include anxiety, autism spectrum disorder, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder or schizophrenia.
As a journalist, the Associated Press Stylebook says not to “describe an individual as mentally ill unless it is clearly pertinent to a story and the diagnosis is properly sourced.”
The stylebook implicitly states not to use words like “crazy” or “insane” when describing someone with mental health issues. The standard should be no different for daily conversations with friends.
Now, with mass shootings, mental health seems to have taken on further stigma.
Just because someone is diagnosed as mentally ill does not mean they are inherently violent. In fact, mentalhealth.gov notes “the vast majority of people with mental health problems are no more likely to be violent than anyone else.”
Mental health diagnoses are common. In fact, the National Alliance on Mental Illness notes one in five adults experience it in a year.
You can find fact sheets all about mental illness from the National Institute of Mental Health. Often, it is people between 18 and 25 who are diagnosed most prevalently, but they are not as likely to seek treatment according to statistics from NIMH obtained from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Women are also more likely to receive a diagnosis because NIMH says men are often less likely to talk about their feelings and get mental health treatment, which seems to indicate further stigma surrounding men and mental illness.
There is no shame in needing help or talking about your feelings. On campus, U Matter, We Care and the Counseling & Wellness Center are there for students raising awareness and providing aid to Gators in need. There is also the Disability Resource Center, which can provide classroom aid if needed after a mental health diagnosis.
Everyone can be a part of the change that destigmatizes mental health issues and discussions.
Sophie Feinberg is a UF journalism junior. Her column comes out Tuesday and Thursday.