Mental health insults and stereotypes are part of everyday language
YMCA Swansea has joined forces with YMCAs across the UK and Ireland to support a major mental health campaign, as new research reveals the damaging effects of negative language and stereotypes about mental health.
Research from YMCA showed that ‘psycho’, ‘retard’ and ‘attention seeker’ were among the most commonly used words, as two thirds (66%) of young people who have seen or heard harmful words and negative stereotypes relating to mental health say it is simply part of everyday language.
More Than Words, published today on World Mental Health Day, as part of the YMCA and NHS #IAMWHOLE campaign, also showed that 44% of those who have heard or seen negative stereotypes did so on a weekly basis, with young people coming across an average of 33 different words and terms.
Researchers spoke to more than 2,000 11-24 year olds and found that even though nearly nine in ten (88%) young people who have come across stereotypes and negative words think they should be challenged, less than half (48%) have done so.
The damaging impact of harmful language is evident as more than half (55%) of young people who have been on the receiving end say it stops them from talking about their difficulties.
More Than Words has been launched as part of #IAMWHOLE’s 2017 activity, which is supported by high profile names including YouTuber, Zoella; former World Champion boxer, Ricky Hatton; TV presenters Matt Johnson, Anna Williamson; Soccer AM host, Lloyd Griffith and music artists including Professor Green and Ella Eyre.
#IAMWHOLE 2017 is being fronted by rock band, Nothing But Thieves – who have recorded an exclusive version of the title track from their hit album ‘Broken Machine’ to support the campaign, as well as last year’s campaign lead Jordan Stephens from Rizzle Kicks.
In support of #IAMWHOLE 2017 YMCA Swansea is backing the campaign by running creative sessions with the young people they work with. Over the past week young people at YMCA Swansea have created artworks, written and recorded songs and filmed a dance performance challenging the mental health stereotypes and harmful language that is still a part of everyday language. Their work will be shared on YMCA Swansea’s website and social media profiles this week.
Anne Marie Rogan Chief Executive for YMCA Swansea said:
“Negative language surrounding mental health is so engrained into our everyday language it makes it almost impossible to tackle stigma if we don’t change the way we talk about people experiencing mental health difficulties.
“While everyone knows how damaging insults can be, it’s the more subtle elements of how we talk about the issue that really discourages young people from speaking out.
“Most of us use words unintentionally, not realising the damaging consequences of our comments. We need to start challenging people on the way they talk and also challenge ourselves. This is why we support the #IAMWHOLE campaign to help everyone better understand mental health and tackle stigma one word at the time.”
Natalie Waugh, Head of MyDonate, BT, said:
“We are proud that YMCA and the NHS chose MyDonate. We are committed to responsible fundraising and as a commission-free platform there is greater transparency in knowing that more money will go to this charitable cause. Improving and championing mental health is something that’s always been important to us at BT. We are excited to support the first #IAMWHOLE fundraising campaign to make sure that even more young people get the help they deserve.”
Other findings from the research report include:
- More than four in five (81%) young people have heard negative words and stereotypes about mental health
- 60% of young people said social media is where they most frequently saw negative words and stereotypes about mental health
- 72% of those hearing or seeing negative language and stereotypes believe social media is the most common place for people pick these up
- Only 30% of young people who have heard or seen stereotypes and negative language say they are used with the intent to cause harm, with the majority (79%) putting their use down to a lack of understanding about mental health.
- 74% of young people who have heard and seen negative words and stereotypes say people must be educated about mental health to stop these, while 70% say talking about mental health will help tackle the issue.
Anyone who wants to get involved in the campaign can do so by posting an #IAMWHOLE selfie on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and text ‘WHOLE’ to 70007 to donate £3 to YMCA to strengthen the circle of support available to young people.
For more information about #IAMWHOLE and this year’s campaign activity, visit www.whole.org.uk.