Counsler discusses severity of using mental disorders as slang

Americans use words like “bad” when referring to something good and “sick” when discussing something cool.

It has become popular to do the same when referring to mental disorders. This raises the question of whether this commonplace practice is ethical.

One in five Americans live with a mental illness, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Students should stop to think about what mental illnesses are so they can start to understand how inappropriate it is to use the terms incorrectly, said Jami Flippo, mental health counselor at Student Counseling Services.

19.6 percent of people with a mental illness were between the ages of 18-25, according to research by the National Institute of Mental Health.

“I would be offended if I had Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and I heard someone say they had it when they really don’t,” said senior Susan Orereke.

When people do not fully understand words, they make their own assumptions about them and use the words as slang, Flippo said.

“Everyone responds to certain things differently,” she said. “It may not bother some people, but to others it could be like a slap in the face.”

People should clarify themselves before they use mental disorders as adjectives, Orereke said.

“I think it would make them feel terrible to hear someone use their illness as an adjective,” said freshman Reed Parks.

Flippo said the media is to blame for the popularization of mental disorders as adjectives.

“I have seen it portrayed in movies, and it is portrayed wrong,” she said.

The best way to stop this phenomenon is to educate people on the seriousness of mental disorders, Flippo said.

“We hear people say something and we laugh it off, but there is a way to stand up to it without being rude,” she said.

Another way to end these offensive practices is to speak up against them, Flippo said.

“You don’t know who’s around or who may hear you sticking up for the seriousness of their illness and how much that may mean to them,” she said. “It’s about being comfortable saying “Hey, that’s not OK with me.”

The seriousness of these mental illnesses is diminished when their titles are used as slang, Flippo said.