Why Language and Mental Health are Deeply Interwoven

Words can be powerful. They are the primary ways you communicate your emotions, thoughts, and intentions to others. Language can bind people together. Do you remember feeling over the world because of a genuine compliment you received? You might also remember feeling upset over someone’s harsh criticism. The way language is used can impact you both positively and negatively. 

  1. It Affects your Social Relationships

As a means of communication and support, language affects your social relationships with others. The kind of words you use and the way you say them can change their meaning. You might recall how sometimes, miscommunication can lead to problems in relationships. At the same time, talking about concerns can resolve issues and bring people on the same page. People use their words to communicate that they’re listening and that they empathise, important elements of any kind of relationship.  

  1. It Affects your Self-Worth 

Language impacts your mental health in more ways than one. The words you use while talking to yourself also affects your well-being. A lot of people may be impacted by negative self-talk, where they may be very harsh when talking to their own selves. The way you speak to yourself internally can influence your belief in your abilities and your very own self. That is how powerful language can be.

  1. It Affects How you View Things, Including Mental Health  

Not only this, language and the broader culture are also tied together. Communities use language to co-create meaning about different topics. The words that a vast majority of people use while talking about mental health can shape the way we view these concepts. You might have heard words like “crazy”, “psycho”, and “schizo” being thrown around to describe people who are suffering from mental health concerns. Even the way people don’t use language and talk in hush-hush tones about these concerns adds to the stigma people face. It alienates those who need support. 

Language is a powerful tool with which you not only communicate but also shape how you think about certain things. It can create warmth and understanding between people but can also alienate if used in different ways. When communication is used to put labels on people struggling with mental health concerns, it leads to them feeling “othered”. Others can mentally put them into boxes, making distinctions between the “sane” and the “insane”, the “normals” and the “abnormals”. At the same time, by being more inclusive in the way you speak, you can counter the stigma surrounding mental health, one word at a time.