The labels: psycho, crazy, insane, unpredictable, imbalanced, mentally ill; I think it’s the labels that do the most damage. It’s the labels that prevent people from seeking help, it’s the labels that hold people back from truly recovering, it’s the labels that fuel the stigma, it’s the labels that everyone passionate about mental health are fighting against. Words have creative power and their consequences can haunt for a lifetime. We put so much emphasis on the labels; we use them to categorize groups of symptoms that make up the various diagnoses that constitute the DSM, the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders or the holy bible of psychiatry.

Yes, diagnoses serve an invaluable purpose used to treat those in need of psychiatric help, but maybe we’re oversimplifying and making the person be the depressive instead of understanding them as someone simply suffering from depression. When the self-stigma takes over and the person becomes their illness as opposed to recognizing it as being a small component of their entire being, the labels become dangerous.

I think the way to creating empathy for those suffering from mental illness is to understand these people as whole persons with needs, aspirations, talents, flaws and not simply as a ‘schizophrenic’ or ‘depressive’ but as a person simply struggling with schizophrenia or depression.

I think this distinction can lead to a more empathetic outlook for people trying to understand mental illness. I think it’s time we start reading the labels more carefully.


steven-signatureMental Vagabond is a 24 year old who suffered from psychosis and delusional disorder. He is currently receiving mental health treatment and is on the road to a full recovery. He hopes to share his experiences to help those who may be going through similar problems to learn that they are not alone and that there is hope. Follow his story on HMC’s Supportive Minds Blog here.

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Mental Vagabond is a 24 year old who suffered from psychosis and delusional disorder. He is currently receiving mental health treatment and is on the road to a full recovery. He hopes to share his experiences to help those who may be going through similar problems to learn that they are not alone and that there is hope. Follow his story on HMC's Supportive Minds Blog.

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