In Spring 2015, I was in the middle of my Junior year at college. My relationship at the time was rocky because my boyfriend was experiencing a mental health breakdown. He was scared and afraid of approaching professionals. He was scared of medication. Eventually it got to the point where he couldn’t ignore the symptoms anymore and began the process of finding out a diagnosis for himself. I remember my parents coming to help me move out of my dorm that year and when I told them what had been going on with my boyfriend, they immediatly labeled him “disturbed”.
Fast forward to today, my boyfriend is in a much better mental health state. My parents, however, whenever we discuss my boyfriend, still occasionally throws the statement out “We know he is disturbed but…” which mentally I am rolling my eyes out of my head. Stating things like “A person with mental health problems is disturbed” only further stigmatizes mental health troubles.
It paints it in a negative light. It makes it sound like the person is a slave to their symptoms, regardless of the severity of the symptoms. It is so disrespectful of those actually going through any type of mental illness. My parents are very uncomfortable with the topic of mental illness in general when it comes to conversation, despite how I have numerous mental health diagnoses myself.
It is currently estimated that 50–65% of the global population (minimally) currently have a form of a diagnosable mental illness. It is very difficult to get accurate statistics for these types of problems because mental illness is so stigmatized across the globe.
Out of respect for those who do have mental illness, please do not call those with mental illnesses “disturbed” or “mentally disturbed”. Just say “This person has a mental illness” and keep it at that. Do not “out” a person if they do not want others to know they have a mental illness.