Monday, June 05, 2006


Mental Health - Terminology

Salam folks -

I'll get down to it straightaway:

I'm getting fed up of listening to people using certain terms out of context. So fed up that I wonder sometimes whether we will ever observe an element of sensitivity towards mental health. Not even sensitivity - when will we be aware enough to recognise what we are saying.. and the impact of the words we choose?

Since being on leave - and out of the mental health field - I've come across people slipping certain words in random conversations; at times in a manner invoking humour or sarcasm! And to be frank I find it absolutely disgusting, yes I do - I don't like it one bit dear people. Especially from people who are faith-abiding and mature.

At times I've had to stop people in their conversation and asked them whether they really were feeling that way or suffering from the cited condition.. and they turned round and said "Nope". So why on earth are you using those words mate?

I recognise that mental wellbeing is a topic our society has only now started to talk about, and that it is healthy we are able to discuss what we feel. And I know it will take time for us to throw the stigmatic cloak away from our conversations. I also recognise the value of sharing ones' emotional being with others and that sometimes we just can't find more appropriate words to describe how we feel. But I am very concerned at the choice of vocabulary we are beginning to use, especially in our casual day-to-day chats. Do we forget that 1 in 4 people will be affected by Mental Illness in their lifetime here in the UK?

( Btw I'm not having a go at people with serious issues and who actually are living under a pressure-zone.)

One example may be the oft-cited word: "depressed". So many people tell me they are feeling depressed.. But having worked with people who have been sunk in depression for many years.. and knowing loved ones who have undergone a period of depression - I find it a word which is fast losing its' meaning; how many of us really know what it is like to be depressed? To be in a tearful, frightful state wishing death at every opportunity and feeling unworthy of a single breath? Do we actually realise that is how depressed people feel? not for one day or two days - but for several weeks, months and years.

I guess I'm just being harsh.

But this is how I truly feel. I don't like words used out of context and want to know why people do that? We never do it when speaking of physical health conditions - so why do we do it when speaking about mental health conditions?

BBC Mental Health Info
Young Minds
Mental Health Foundation

The artwork is something I have been working on since last Ramadhan. It is called 'Circles of Knowledge' and although I talk about the artwork over at Tranquil Zone and I will be doing so in future - I'd like to mention here that I started this work when I realised that the only thing which will elevate me from my condition is knowledge. And that there is alot which is sacred about the learning process.

As human beings we need to realise that when we interact with those around us, we need to be aware of our language. We live in an ever-changing world where we come across many people from all sorts of backgrounds and life experiences. As odd as it seems last night I started reading The Method Of Learning By Imam al-Zarnuji..

We are the followers of a Tradition which has a Book that has no word placed out of context. A Creator who has used the best of words when addressing us. We should honour this and out of the respect for this, we should inculcate a sound terminology when meeting the world.

Peace and Prayers
Bint-eh Adam x
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