What Our Society Thinks Of The Term Mental HEALTH

A chance to present to the MH Consortium of LI, today. It was a collection of 100+ superintendents, social workers, school psychologist, principals, etc. I was given a 3-hr window to talk specifically abt stigma in schools: what is it, where it came from, how we address it, what campaigns cut through it.


If you’ve been following me, you know I don’t like the term stigma, especially in campaigns – it reminds us there IS a stigma, & it places the 1 in 5 “sick group” at odds w the 4 in 5 “healthy group,” pointing fingers at who is doing the stigmatizing. We need to come together in this space, not separate.


After taking the group through a history of how bias against MH formed, all the way back to letting out “demons of heads, by cutting holes” in the Middle Ages, we engaged in a # of breakouts in small groups.


The 1st breakout question: What do our parents/kids associate negatively w the term Mental HEALTH? You see the slide right there, so you know I wasn’t steering. Below are the response. Amazing HOW MANY negative affiliations there are w mental HEALTH, how quickly the group came up w these, & how the groups had so many diff answers. Words & campaigns matter. If THIS is what our professionals think students/parents think abt mental HEALTH, our campaigns, our word choices, our examples have to get MUCH cleaner & tighter. This is scary, but it’s a wake-up call for change. List:


Shameful, Weak, Sick, What Am I Doing Wrong, Crazy, Bananas, CooCoo, Nuts, Lunatic, Mental Hospital, Isolated, Alone, There Must Be Something Wrong W My Child, Embarrassed, Shame, Failure, Weakness, Genetics, Everyone Else’s Life Is Better, Fixed Mindset, Suicidal, Mental, Bipolar, Depression, Unstable, Loner, Weirdo, Schizo, Bad Parents, Dangerous, Unpredictable, Don’t Want To Kill Myself, Loss Of Control, Loss Of Reality, Crisis, Aggressive, Life Sentence Of Suffering, Drugs, Alcohol, Substances, Hopeless, Helpless, Prescriptions, Family Trauma, Fear, Excuse, Therapy, Different, Ruin Reputation, Not My Kid, Not My Culture, Don’t Talk About It, Hide It, Silence it, Affects Their Future, Mentally Ill, Stigma, Lazy, Needy, Disorder, Violent.

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