Survey Results: What should we call it?

Last week’s survey focused on figuring out what terms surrounding mental health are acceptable to use. It’s an important issue! Mental health has a lot of stigma around it, as well as and a history of some pretty offensive stuff. It’s so important to try to use respectful terms when we talk about it.

The survey only had eight respondents this week—it was a little longer and more complicated than the last one. I think the results are still valuable, however, so I still want to share them. (I’m also going to keep the survey open, so click here to take it if you haven’t already.)

The survey went through several mental health-related terms. Survey respondents had the choice of “okay” and “not okay” for each term. If the majority of respondents said “okay,” it went in the YES category below. If it was a tie, it went in the GRAY AREA. If the majority said “not okay,” it went in the NO category.

As you can see, the survey asked about two-part terms, so that’s how I grouped the answers. If this is confusing, it might be easier to skip to the EXAMPLES section. The survey also had some fill-in-the-blank questions, which I talk about later.

Examples of “yes” terms

  1. People with symptoms of a mental health disorder

  2. People with mental health experiences

  3. Mentally ill

  4. People with a history of psychological challenges

  5. People with a behavioral condition

  6. Emotionally vulnerable

  7. People suffering from mental distress

  8. People with psychological struggles

Examples of “no” terms

  1. Mental impairment

  2. Psychological sickness

  3. Psychologically disabled

  4. Mental instability

  5. Psychiatrically disturbed

  6. Victims of mental illness

  7. Psychiatrically unstable

  8. Psychological trouble

  9. Behaviorally challenged

  10. Mental health vulnerability

Here’s what I learned from the survey:

  1. Trying to come up with a good list of terms related to mental health really made me think. There are a few terms on the list I hadn’t really thought about using until this, and that I think I’ll use more often, including “challenges,” “experiences,” and “symptoms of.” Thinking of my own personal experiences with mental health symptoms and challenges (see what I did there?), these terms feel like a respectful and representative way to talk about them. That makes me hope that using them would help others with these experiences feel that way, too—and that’s my goal when I talk about mental health.

  2. One respondent commented that they struggled a little answering with words that had some negative connotations, but that are nonetheless widely used in the medical community. Personally, I don’t like the term “mental illness,” but it seems to be the standard when speaking medically. People who answered the survey overall were okay with the terms “mental” and “illness.” That, and this comment, kind of changed my mind about this one, and though I don’t love it, these results have made me a little less apprehensive about using it.

  3. There were a few answers for the fill-in-the-blank portion of the survey that I hadn’t thought of before and that I really liked:

  4. One person completed the sentence, “I think she’s missing work because she…” with “is having a mental health day.” When I read it, this way of saying it felt like it had basically zero stigma, that it seems like something everyone can relate to, and yet that doesn’t shy away from actually talking about mental health (like some euphemisms we use do).

  5. I also loved how someone completed the sentence “This is a community for…” with “mental wellness.” My go-to phrase, “mental health,” grammatically sounds funny on its own in this kind of sentence. This phrase fixes that problem while still sounding really positive overall, which I appreciated. It’s definitely one I’ll use in the future.

What do you think of the results? Feel free to comment below.

Next Week’s Survey

A lot of people with mental health concerns have trouble sleeping. In fact, experiencing either insomnia or hypersomnia (sleeping too much) is in the diagnostic criteria for major depressive disorder (on the list of “if 5 out of 9 of these are present…”). What’s your experience with sleep? This survey is 2-4 questions (based on your responses), and takes about two minutes to complete.

Now go take that survey (click here).

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