Talk Radio: Unhelpful Use of Mental Health Language

Talk RadioRecently, Talk Radio’s John Nicholson spoke to Smart TMS’s CEO Gerard Barnes for Mental Health Awareness Week. The two talked about how misusing language regarding mental health was unhelpful to patients. As well as the impact on the patient, language also affects the stigma around mental health as a whole. In turn, this can make it difficult for people to seek help. 

John Nicholson picked up on the issue, saying:

“…the issue of language – saying that people are obsessive compulsive disorder because they’ve got a tidy desk and I know that always upsets me because I’ve family members affected. Would people for instance misuse the word schizophrenic when they mean that they’re having difficulty choosing between, you know, one pizza or another? Or inconsistent behaviour. It’s used frequently in the media. Lots of mental health terms are misused, you know, ‘nutcase’ is misused, ‘schizo’ is misused. A whole host of words are misused.

“I always make a point of trying to reach out to people who do use the term wrongly – schizophrenia in particular. I tend to tweet when I hear people using it on television or radio. It strikes me that it’s very difficult for people with mental health conditions to accept the mental health condition especially when mental health words are used in such a derogatory way. I mean who wants to accept a schizophrenic condition when it’s used all the time in a negative context”

Fear Of Diagnosis

Gerard agreed:

“…people are afraid of being diagnosed and that will be one of the reasons why people don’t come forward. Actually, in most cases receiving a diagnosis while it may be for the short term – I’m going to say traumatic because it can be, you know, that powerful – in the medium to long term is quality for patients because they can start to understand why it is that they’re behaving in the way that they are behaving and and feeling the way they are feeling and then can seek help when help is available.”

John pointed out that we’ve stopped using certain other words that were used in a derogatory way years ago but terms like ‘schizo’ were still in use. Gerard replied:

“Language clearly is really important and language is all part of the stigma. Using the phrases in common parlance and a slightly derogatory way – or completely derogatory way – clearly doesn’t help.

“But we’re on a journey I think where society is getting more tolerant generally and as you say, ‘mongol’ is no longer accepted. Here’s hoping that in 10-20 years time schizo won’t be either.”

Listen to the Interview

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TMS Treatment

Transcranial magnetic stimulation treatment can help with a range of difficult mental health conditions.  Around 75% of people treated for depression and anxiety see their symptoms decrease. This allows them to live a better quality of life, without being followed by the black cloud of mental illness. Alongside this improvement, around 60% of these patients go into remission completely, which means they no longer suffer depression at all. Find out more about how TMS Treatment works.

Smart TMS Clinics

Smart TMS was established in 2015, dedicated to providing TMS treatment in London at their South Kensington/Brompton Cross centre. The company then opened a second clinic in Birmingham in September 2017.  The first Irish clinic was opened in Dublin in October 2017 and in 2018, Smart TMS opened further locations in Manchester, Bristol and Havant (South Coast).

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