Why I Use the Term 'Mental Health Condition' Instead of 'Mental Illness'

October 13, 2018 Martha Lueck

The term 'mental health condition' makes some people feel less anxious than the term 'mental illness'. Find out why at HealthyPlace.

Almost every time we talk about mental health, we use the term mental illness to refer to a mood disorder. Although this term is correct (as it refers to an unhealthy condition that requires some type of treatment), it could make some of its patients feel inferior to the disease. So perhaps it would positively impact our wellness journeys to simply call these illnesses mental health conditions. To learn more about my views on this topic, read this article. 

Mental Health Conditions are Not the Same for Everyone

Every mood disorder varies in severity for every individual. Everyone who lives with these disorders seeks out treatment according to his or her own needs. Some people rely heavily on medication; others do not use any medication. Some people go to therapy; others just confide in a loved one for support. When we write or talk about our mental health conditions, we almost always seem to refer to them as mental illnesses.

Perhaps I am too sensitive and look at this term too literally, but I think the label illness increases self-stigma. It makes me wonder if I will ever get through depression. It makes me fear getting stuck in the disease after I think I am out of it. Worst of all, it makes me fear that if I am depressed around other people, I will bring them down with me.

Using The Term Mental Health Conditions Aids in my Wellness Journey

Often times, I refer to mental health issues as mental health conditions because it sounds less morbid. I do not like to think of myself as a dying patient. Rather, I like to think of myself as a person trying to get mentally well.

Now, I am not saying that mental health conditions are not serious. They are, as many of them can have fatal results if not treated properly. So there is nothing wrong with occasionally referring to them as illnesses. But if we are high-functioning, maybe it would help to replace the term mental illness with mental health condition. By doing so, we can remind ourselves that these are conditions that we live with, but they do not define our lives.

To learn about how we can use other terminology to positively impact our wellness journey, watch the video below.

APA Reference
Lueck, M. (2018, October 13). Why I Use the Term 'Mental Health Condition' Instead of 'Mental Illness', HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 27 from

Author: Martha Lueck

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