Mental Illness Terminology


Hi group members,


For those of you who have students/clients with mental illness, the following may be of interest to you.  For others, it has some good basic information.


The Associated Press recently added an entry on mental illness to the AP Stylebook, which is a guide for journalists on language use. Among their recommendations:

• Do not describe an individual as mentally ill unless it is clearly pertinent to a story and the diagnosis is properly sourced. Don't rely on hearsay or speculate on a diagnosis.

• Do not use derogatory terms, such as insane, crazy/crazed, nuts or deranged, unless they are part of a quotation that is essential to the story.

• Do not assume that mental illness is a factor in a violent crime, and verify statements to that effect. A past history of mental illness is not necessarily a reliable indicator.

• A person's condition can change over time, so a diagnosis of mental illness might not apply anymore. Avoid anonymous sources. On-the-record sources can be family members, mental health professionals, medical authorities, law enforcement officials and court records.

• Provide examples of symptoms. Mental illness is a general condition. Specific disorders are types of mental illness and should be used whenever possible: i.e., "He was diagnosed with schizophrenia, according to court documents." "She was diagnosed with anorexia, according to her parents."

On a related note, do any of you have adult education and literacy programs that are specifically geared to serving people that have mental illness?  Please respond and share information with other group members.




Rochelle Kenyon, SME


Thanks for the information.

We should worry about our mental disorders untill a mental health professional is able to dignose it. I have seen many people worring and they tell they have psychological disorders but when listenging there story they only worring are anxious.


Help is needed but mental help is more needed in this time.

I really appreciate the posting re: the AP Style book instruvtions around mental illness terminology. All too often, especailly in the current climate, we make assumptions about persons with mental illness that are reflected in our language. Many times that language is perjorative in tone andsubstance. It is good to see the press encouraging an even handed approach to reporting on the subject of mental illness as well as in their description on individuals who may be struggling with these disorder. Thanks for the info Rochelle.