I have heard many people who are ill say; ‘Isn’t there another word for mental illness?’ OR, ‘If only there was another way to say mental illness or mentally ill.’ These are some labels I have collected after reading all kinds of nasty uses of ways to describe someone with a mental illness. CRAZY, WACHO, SCHIZO.
This led me to peruse dictionaries, study the internet, visit psychiatric hospitals and talk to mental health workers including psychologists and psychiatrists about changing the way they describe these people, and this is what I came up with.
How about saying: a person with a mental illness, a distressed person, someone with mental health issues, a psychiatric survivor, someone diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar illness, a person with a mental health history, or even a mental health client. BUT the best seems to be the the term ‘a mental health consumer.’ Why? Because, this person is part of the mental health system so, to all intents and purpose, he/she is a consumer.
My final choice will probably be to call that individual ‘a person’ as he/she has a name, is a human being, so the other descriptions are not really appropriate, are they?