Name-Calling People with Mental Illness Isn't Helpful

August 12, 2019 Laura Barton

One of the ways mental health stigma is spread is through negative labels and name-calling those with a mental health condition. This can happen no matter where a person falls on the mental health spectrum, whether they have a manageable or severe mental illness, but in all cases, calling people with a mental illness names not a helpful solution to mental illness.

Name Calling Those with a Mental Illness Solves Nothing

I read an article the other day discussing the Premier of Ontario calling a man with schizophrenia an "animal." The man had been found not criminally responsible for murdering his roommate because of his mental illness and was placed in inpatient treatment. The Premier took issue with this, claiming that people, in particular other politicians, are being too politically correct and that there needs to be tougher reactions legally to people like this man. He said he's passionate about people with "true mental illness" and we need to stop "all this bleeding heart stuff."1

The Premier's stigmatized views of mental illness's role in crime shows a lack of understanding of mental illness despite his claims of helping people with "true" forms of it. Whether a mental illness is "true" or not isn't dependant on its severity and what a person does while ill.

In addition to this, calling someone an animal doesn't do anything to solve mental illness, severe or otherwise, or to reduce its effects on people. Treatment and research into better treatment options, however, is. Meanwhile, the Ontario government, led by this Premier, is being criticized for reducing mental health funding.2 This certainly isn't a step in the right direction of helping those with mental illness.

How to Help Those with Mental Illness (Without Name-Calling)

Negative labels and the name-calling of people with mental illness do nothing positive for the person and isn't helpful in the slightest. Animal, nutcase (another word the Premier used), psycho — these words accomplish nothing but hate for and fear of mental illness as well as those living with it. Yes, there are cases where people with mental illnesses do scary things, but that shouldn't be used to generalize all people with mental illness.

Instead, funding into better mental health treatment, infrastructure for mental health care, and education of mental health and mental illness alike would help serve as preventative measures to cases where mental illness gets the better of a person. When we learn to better recognize the signs of someone struggling and have the resources to provide them with help, it's more likely we can intervene and truly make a difference.

Instead of jumping to fear-mongering and name-calling of those with mental illness, let's instead by conscious of the words we're using, what impact they really have, and work toward providing better treatment options for those with mental illness.

See Also:


  1. Jones, Allison. "Doug Ford calls mental health patient detained for killing roommate an 'animal'." CBC. August 9, 2019. Accessed August 11, 2019
  2. Benzie, Robert. "Tories blasted for $335M cust to planned spending on mental health." Toronto Star. July 26, 2018. Accessed August 11, 2019.

APA Reference
Barton, L. (2019, August 12). Name-Calling People with Mental Illness Isn't Helpful, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 18 from

Author: Laura Barton

Laura Barton is a fiction and non-fiction writer from the Niagara Region in Ontario, Canada. Find her on Twitter, FacebookInstagram, and Goodreads.

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