Certain language can cause offence and may be inaccurate when used in news stories that involve someone with a mental health problem. Here are the most common, as well as some alternative suggestions.
- ‘a psycho’ or ‘a schizo’
- ‘a schizophrenic’ or ‘a depressive’
- ‘lunatic’ ‘nutter’ 'unhinged' 'maniac' 'mad'
- ‘the mentally ill’, ‘a person suffering from’ ‘a sufferer’, a ‘victim’ or ‘the afflicted’
- 'prisoners’ or ‘inmates’ (in a psychiatric hospital)
- ‘released’ (from a hospital)
- 'happy pills'
- ‘a person who has experienced psychosis’ or 'a person who has schizophrenia'
- someone who ‘has a diagnosis of’ is ‘currently experiencing' or ‘is being treated for…
- ‘a person with a mental health problem’
- ‘mental health patients’ or ‘people with mental health problems’
- ‘patients’, ‘service users’ or clients
- ‘antidepressants', 'medication' or 'prescription drugs'
Other common mistakes
- 'schizophrenic’ or 'bipolar' should not be used to mean ‘two minds’ or a ‘split personality’
- somebody who is angry is not ‘psychotic’
- a person who is down or unhappy is not the same as someone experiencing clinical depression
Read this blog from one mental health professional who explains why he decided to challenge the BBC over its use of language.
If you are in doubt then you can always get in touch.
Listen to Debbie who has the condition OCD, talk about the importance of getting language right.