Opinion

Casual use of mental health terms causes undue stigmatization

“Oh my God, my professor is bipolar,” the student next to me said. “One day he is in a good mood, the next day he is so moody. I can’t stand him.”

“The kid next to me is so OCD. Do you see how organized he keeps everything?” I overheard in class.

Appropriating mental health terms to describe everyday occurrences has become so commonplace, even on our campus, that we do not even realize we are doing it. This use is incorrect and harms those who suffer from these disorders.

When people describe someone as “bipolar” or “OCD,” they never mean it in a positive light. When someone is bipolar, the implication is that the individual is very moody. This is a complete misrepresentation of bipolar disorder.

Bipolar disorder causes individuals to quickly swing from periods of hyperactivity to periods of depression and, sometimes, suicidal thoughts, according to the American Psychological Association.

Likewise, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a disorder characterized by uncontrollable feelings and rituals in which individuals must engage. For example, people with OCD might have to wash their hands many times a day.

Because casual use of these descriptors always has a negative connotation, there is a negative stigma associated with the disorders, often causing people who suffer from them to be ashamed of seeking help.

By making the diseases seem like something within their control, individuals are blamed for their own illnesses. However, like cancer or many other conditions, bipolar disorder is not the fault of the person who suffers from it.

I have a very close friend who has bipolar disorder, so I know from firsthand experience that her condition extends far beyond the moody stereotype.

Having a friend who is bipolar means not knowing whether they are going to be depressed or happy to see you. It means that you never know how to help them, or when they will be happy again because those periods of depression can last days, weeks, even months.

I am the last person who wishes to restrict someone’s free speech, but there is a difference between saying whatever you want and saying whatever you want because you refuse to acknowledge that mental health disorders are actual conditions. This is about respect.

Just as we do not mock people who have cancer, we should not mock those who need psychiatric help but are ashamed because of stigmatization. Instead, we should create a supportive environment and educate ourselves about the conditions. You never know if the person sitting next to you might, like so many, be suffering in silence.

Amanda Perez is a freshman majoring in psychology.

Featured image courtesy Pixabay user geralt

September 28, 2016

Reporters

Amanda Perez


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

Former University of Miami star running back Mark Walton was arrested late Friday on a charge of mis ...

Friday was strange for Gino DiMare. It wasn’t because his whole family went out to the mound at Alex ...

One thing was obvious to Wayne Younger the first time he got his hands on Ladarius Tennison: The ath ...

Though it’s early, UM already has assembled an outstanding nine-member 2020 recruiting class, a grou ...

Three days before they open their season against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, the Miami Hurricanes h ...

UM alumna Alina Mayo Azze, who has covered a myriad of topics during her 37-year career, has been a ...

Happiness and well-being scholar Tal Ben-Shahar is UM’s newest Distinguished Presidential Scholar. ...

The University of Miami will host the first symposium to explore LGBTQ human rights across the Ameri ...

UM experts react to a new ban that prohibits people in Key West from using certain types of sunscree ...

A matchmaker extraordinaire, Ricardo Cepeda, the manager of the UM Zebrafish Facility, is passionate ...

The University of Miami baseball team opened the Gino DiMare era with a record-setting victory over ...

The University of Miami women's swimming team put together 14 lifetime bests Saturday at its an ...

Game time is 6 p.m. in Chestnut Hill, Mass. ...

The No. 20 Miami women's basketball team will play its second top-five foe in a span of three g ...

Despite earning the doubles point, the No. 15 Miami women's tennis team dropped a 5-2 decision ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.