"Seen that new film? It was mental!" says one person.
"Your ex boyfriend is totally mental!" says another.
Me? I say: "I have a mental illness."
Everyone else: "what's that?"
For many years slang has given birth to an entirely new language while also changing the meanings of existing words. One example is the word gay. Its original meaning is of someone of a homosexual nature, but from time to time, many use it to portray something as negative e.g. if someone believes their circumstances to be unfair, some people deem the situation 'gay'. However, a new word has entered the slang vocabulary: mental.
Does the media put the word 'mental' into judgmental?
There's already a stigma associated with having a mental illness, so the last thing the world needs is to worsen this representation. I was reading a magazine the other day and in two separate stories, the word mental was used to describe a derogative issue. One used it in reference to a violent night out while the other was used to highlight an acrimonious breakup - both which denote pessimistic outcomes.
Doesn't exactly inspire those within the mentally ill community with much hope when instead of stamping out the stigma, the media instead encourages adding fuel to the mental health fire. The problem is that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, demonstrating that a lack of information and a huge dose of ignorance can be detrimental when reporting the news. But who am I to judge? It's not like I have a mental illness.
Oh wait a minute, I do. So pay attention when I tell you the following.
Don't be afraid to ASK: Always Seek Knowledge
A lot has changed in the world of news publishing. With different channels operating different political agendas, so there are various editorial agencies whose bias leans towards various audiences. Consider this: newspapers and TV channels are deliberately crafted to attract their desired audience and with that in mind, said audience will already have an opinion formed in their heads about the type of news they want to read about. So in theory, these people already buy into whatever news they want to digest. Sadly this ideology that news agencies are impartial and objective mouthpieces has somewhat been skewed in favour of boosting readership and viewing figures.
Just as guns don't kill people, rappers do - so do so-called 'journalists' who provide a skewed outlook on mental health and produce damaging reports regarding this taboo subject. As a result, people who consume these skewed outlooks on mental health then share their own opinions with others until what was supposed to be an authentic analysis of the state of mental health affairs turns into a cruel cycle of Chinese whispers.
My remedy? Instead of relying on secondhand information, explore your primary sources - and talk to those who have a firsthand experience of mental health. So let's avoid being judgmental and instead take the first step in becoming monumental in eradicating the stigma of the word 'mental'.