I’ve been seeing the term “serious mental illness” used on your website, and it’s been focused on “schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and severe mood disorder,” with language like “such as,” as in this article. While I have no problem with your highlighting the seriousness of those conditions, I assume that your staff is aware that a large number of serious cases happen outside of these diagnoses. Not only is this due to the potential seriousness of other conditions, it is also due to the inadequacy of our official diagnostic system. The end result can be that if people don’t have an official diagnosis of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or severe mood disorder, they’re told that they’re not doing that badly, and they’re neglected, all evidence of impairment and suffering to the contrary.

I realize that your site is primarily engaged in journalism, rather than activism or politics. I also appreciate that attempts to make language all-inclusive can be cumbersome; that policing language can draw focus away from the problems that the language is actually meant to address; and that adding disorders to the category of “serious mental illness” strengthens the notion that other disorders can safely be ignored. Still, I hope that MindSite News can somehow do a better job of conveying the full extent of what “serious mental illness” means.

Barry (Last name withheld at author’s request)

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