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Home / Tips & Tricks / Be Sensitive: Change The Language You Use About Mental Health

Be Sensitive: Change The Language You Use About Mental Health


Knowing the terminology about mental health is important. Despite its growing awareness, some people are still misusing words. Words are powerful. It can tear a person down and can help them build their confidence. You need to be aware that there are specific terms in every condition. Never generalize the problem of a person. That is why you need to educate yourself in order not to offend people with your choice of words.

Kudos to Unilever for acknowledging this issue with their employees. Unilever’s Health and Wellbeing UK and Ireland Programme Lead, Nikki Kirbell, stated, “The key areas of wellbeing are interlinked – you cannot look after one effectively without looking after the others. Rather than targeting any one issue with the strategy, we chose to incorporate a person’s entire well-being.” This is what Kirbell said in her interview with Mental Health First Aid. (MHFA)

In addition to the same interview with Nikki, the CEO of Unilever, Paul Polman also had his perspective about mental health. “By listening and responding to their emotional needs we give people a much better chance of fulfilling their true potential. Which is good for them and good for the company.”

If you know the right terms about mental health, it will not be confusing for you. Here are the languages that you use when it comes to Mental Health.

Panic Attacks


Anxiety and Depression Association of America defines panic attack as “the abrupt onset of intense fear or discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes”. Trembling, shaking, feelings of choking, chest discomfort, fear of dying and losing control, palpitations are some of the symptoms of panic attacks. If ever you experience lower than four out of the mentioned symptoms, consult a doctor, you may have limited-symptom panic attacks.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

According to Anxiety BC, “OCD involves unwanted and disturbing thoughts, images, or urges (obsessions) that intrude into a child/teen’s mind and cause a great deal of anxiety or discomfort. Which the child/teen then tries to reduce by engaging in repetitive behaviors or mental acts (compulsions)”.

There is a study of comorbidity in 330 Obsessive Compulsive Disorder patients. Ages 10 and 17 years were appropriate cut-offs for early and late onset subgroups respectively. OCD tends to begin earlier. It could start for children with the aged of seven to 12. Grades, school participation, focus, meal schedules, personal hygiene, and school performance are affected if you have OCD.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)


For people who have experienced a terrorist incident, witness a sudden death, and violent personal assault they might have PTSD.  According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, “The symptoms of PTSD can cause problems with trust, closeness, communication, and problem-solving. These problems may affect the way the survivor acts with others. In turn, the way a loved one responds to him or her affects the trauma survivor. A circular pattern can develop that may sometimes harm relationships.”


As defined by National Alliance on Mental Illness, “bipolar disorder is a mental illness that causes dramatic shifts in a person’s mood, energy and ability to think clearly”. Having schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are different. Schizophrenia, as stated in NAMI, “interferes with a person’s ability to think clearly, manage emotions, make decisions and relate to others”.

General Anxiety Disorder (GAD)


If you have General Anxiety Disorder, you will find it difficult to control your worries. You are prone to anticipate negative situation to happen. WebMD describes GAD as “characterized by excessive, exaggerated anxiety and worry about everyday life events with no obvious reasons for worry”.


American Psychiatric Association defines depression as “a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act”.  Also, the major depressive disorder can cause feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest. There are several factors that can cause depression. It might be because of biochemistry, genetics, personality, and other environmental factors. Always remember that depression can affect everyone.

Always be careful with how you deal and what you know about mental health. You may think that everything is good, but you are already hurting other people’s feelings. Be sensitive to how you deal with people. Show kindness to random people, even to those you do not know. You may not know it but they are also struggling. Not because you are hurt, you also have the right to hurt others.

be-sensitive-pay-attention-to-what you-are-saying

Pay attention to the words you are saying. Without even knowing, you are starting to create an impact on how that person deals with his life. It is important that you have a little knowledge when it comes to mental health. If you think that cheering up a person with depression is okay, even if it’s a pure intention, it is still wrong. You may say, “I can see that you’re struggling, and I’m proud of you for pushing through this.”

Do you want to keep up with news about mental health? Check this out for latest updates.

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