We Should Talk About Mental Health With Respect


Founder, The Flawless Foundation


In any given year, one out of every five adults in the U.S. has an experience with a mental health disorder. The tenth leading cause of death for U.S. adults is suicide. For individuals ages 10-24, the second leading cause of death is suicide. But you wouldn’t know it.

You wouldn’t know it because of the way we talk about mental health in this country — the way we shame and mock each disorder, each symptom, each call for help. As a society, we have made a serious health condition something that is easier to hide than to address. And we need to change things around, starting with the way we talk about mental health in our public spaces, specifically in the media.

This past Sunday, the singer Sinéad O’Connor wrote a troubling Facebook post that detailed her intention to die from an overdose. Thankfully, the Irish authorities were alerted, and O’Connor was located and given medical attention. She is now, reportedly, “safe and sound.”

A fierce advocate for mental health rights, O’Connor has dealt with depression for many years. She has, herself, spoken out against the way the media characterizes mental health issues, condemning the use of the word “crazy,” and shaming paparazzi for trying to make a “buffoonery and mockery” of young, female celebrities with mental health disorders.

It is therefore especially disturbing to see many similar tactics being used by media outlets to make a “buffoonery and mockery” of Ms. O’Connor, after she wrote a worrying new post on Facebook, detailing her recent thoughts and feelings.