One of his arguments is that using the term perpetuates a stigma rather than helps eliminate it. So when
LaBarta, who recently retired as CEO and president of
LaBarta said that discrimination and prejudice can be seen when people who have mental illnesses are incarcerated without proper treatment, or treated like they are morally or otherwise flawed rather than having an illness.
She also took issue with another phrase that I must confess to having used: "mental health issues," rather than mental illnesses.
"We talk about people having mental health issues ... (but) we don't talk about cancer issues or diabetes issues," LaBarta said.
But problems with the language used about mental illnesses go beyond such euphemisms. There also are politicians who say the right things about improving treatment for people with mental illnesses, only to back policies that achieve the opposite result.
The Trump administration is an example.
The budget includes some funding increases for mental-health programs but far greater overall health care cuts. Like in his State of the Union address, Trump publicly acts like a health care champion while in reality working to gut the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid and other programs expanding access to care.
We have a similar problem in
As LaBarta noted,
Having politicians and journalists become more comfortable with talking and writing about mental illnesses, and avoiding euphemisms, represents progress. But using the right terms only goes so far when you oppose policies and programs that actually help people with mental illnesses get health care.
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