Letters to the Editor

Mental illness should be addressed in straightforward manner

To the Editor,

Re: It isn’t easy to talk about mental health, Letters, Jan. 23.

Some combinations of words I hear frequently, puzzle me. I wonder if in using euphemistic terms we are doing more harm than good.

We know that brain disorders are medical disorders, that is, diseases, or illnesses of the brain which require medical treatment and professional clinical help. I wonder why people say ‘mental health issues,’ as if mental health can be settled by debate and discussion, or ‘struggles with mental health’ as if health is a struggle, or ‘mental health disease,’ as if people are both well and ill, or ‘mental health problems,’ as if mental health is a problem.

By focusing on clear and meaningful language such as neuropsychiatric disorder, serious or persistent mental illness or brain disorders, or neurobiological disorders, maybe then there will be less stigma, less discrimination, and more emphasis on research and treatment, and maybe in the future, even prevention.

Two other words which puzzle me are the words prevention and recovery when talking about mental illness. Until we know the cause how can we prevent? Just like diabetes there is no recovery for serious or persistent mental illness; there is only management with scientific, evidence-based medical-clinical treatment. And yes, if treated, most can live a fulfilling, rewarding life.

Eileen Callanan
via e-mail

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