Separating Mental Health From Mental Illness

Gonna begin this post by saying: I don’t love the term “mental illness.” I much prefer mental health complications, or even declining mental health. Why? Because mental HEALTH lives on a continuum & we are all impacted to varying levels. That said, I get it…the term is out there already.

So, if the term mental illness is going to be used, can we please 🙏 come together as organizations, advocates, media, etc., on NOT interchangeably using the terms mental health & mental Illness. They are NOT the same thing…& yet, no hyperbole, I read at least one article a day (major outlets) that uses them as if they are synonyms. For those who want to keep using the MI term…MI is a PLACE on the MH continuum. It’s not the whole continuum.

I shared examples of campaigns instead using them interchangeably in “stories,” earlier today. Why can’t we come to this agreement? We did it w the term “commit” when it comes to talking about suicide. We were able to convince most (ok not all, but most), that it’s not an act we should be shaming ppl for, & we strongly as a community moved to “died by” instead of “committed.” We can do the same w separating MH & MI.

If you go to a magazine aisle in any airport news store, you see physical HEALTH magazines: Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Muscle & Fitness, etc. Could you imagine if we did to the space of physical health, what we do to MH? Could you imagine – since the words are used interchangeably in MH, if the names of some of the physical health magazines that were competitors of the ones above, were things like: “Men’s Illnesses,” or “Diabetes Diaries.”

We would be shocked. We would pass by those covers. Are there cancer & diabetes publications? Sure. But they aren’t synonymous & on the same row as physical “health” magazines. Same should go for how we treat talking about & publishing MH vs MI magazines, papers, articles, campaigns, etc.

These “little things” are BIG things & until we move collectively in directions like this, change for the better doesn’t happen at a societal level.

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