Natasha Devon: Our Language Makes Mental Health Harder To Talk About

20 April 2017, 15:59

The mental health campaigner and writer told Shelagh Fogarty that people don’t know how to describe how their feeling.

“English has among the most words of any language, but we amongst the fewest for emotions and feelings.” Natasha explained. “People misuse words like ‘depression’ because the word for how they’re feeling doesn’t exist.”

To illustrate this point, she compared it with how we talk about physical health.

“If I said to you ‘I had a physical health problem’, it would be absolutely ludicrous for me to expect you to know what I meant, because it covers such a wide gamut.”

While language is one barrier to people talking more openly about their mental health another is the stigma that still exists around the issue.

“What I liken it to imagine there was a huge stigma around having a cold… imagine you couldn’t show it, you couldn’t talk about it.

“And then one day Prince Harry went, ‘do you know what? Sometimes my nose runs’. Everyone would go ‘thank God!’”

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry have recently launched the Heads Together initiative to get more people talking about and addressing their mental health. Natasha applauded the move and said it would contribute to the change we’re seeing.

“There appears to be this huge surge in people coming out of the mental health closet, and that’s because it’s been underground for so long.”

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