Stop Trying To Stigmatize Me – Behavioral Health vs. Mental Health

Stop Trying To Stigmatize Me – Behavioral Health vs. Mental Health

October 23, 2011 Bipolar blog mental illness issues

It seems it’s more politically correct these days to say “behavioral health” rather than “mental health.” Hospitals and governments are changing their programs from mental health programs to behavioral health problems. And somehow this is progress. Somehow this is less stigmatizing.

How’s that again?

Did my behavior suddenly become a problem while I wasn’t watching? Because, quite frankly, I found the notion there was something wrong with my mind to be insulting enough, to find out that now, my behavior is the problem has pushed me over the insultant edge.

Mental Health – There’s Something Wrong with my Mind?

Let me make this clear, there is nothing wrong with my mind. My mind is me. It’s who I am. It’s everything I am. It’s the thing that likes chocolate-peanut butter ice cream from Hagen Dazs. It’s the thing that thinks skydiving is one of the coolest things in the world. It’s the thing that makes me loquacious, slightly misanthropic and a writer. It’s me. There’s nothing wrong with me.

Behavioral Health – There’s Something Wrong with my Behavior?

Stigmatizing Mental Health

And let me be clear, there is nothing wrong with my behavior either. I am not a naughty puppy who piddled on the carpet or a two-year-old with her hand in the cookie jar. I am an adult, completely in control of what I do and I take responsibility for my actions. My behavior is as healthy as anyone else’s.

Brain Health – Bipolar, Depression, etc. is a Brain Illness

On the other hand, my brain is completely fucked up. My brain has big problems. I don’t exactly know what the problems are with my brain, but it’s extraordinarily evident to me that they exist. It’s the neurotransmitters or the structures or the hormones or the wrinkly-bits I don’t know, but there’s something up there that’s not working the way it’s supposed to.

It’s not an illness of the mind; it’s not an illness of behavior; it’s an illness of the brain.

How is Behavioral Health Better than Mental Health?

So my question is: What is more politically correct about behavioral health than mental health? What is better about that? How is it less stigmatizing to suggest that my behavior is sick and erratic than my mind is? Does it not sound like I’m suddenly going to go bonkers in front of you, do something crazy and hurt someone? Does it not sound like I’m dangerous, all of a sudden? How is that better than saying mental illness? Who was on the committee that decided that? I would like to talk to them.

I Have a Brain Illness, a Brain Disorder

Now I get it, neurology has the line on the concept of a brain illness. I get that. But honestly, what’s the difference between neurology and psychiatry. Both of them deal in illnesses of the brain. In some cases, the treatments are even the same. Guess who implanted my vagus nerve stimulator? A neurosurgeon. There is no different between my brain illness and accepted brain illnesses like Parkinson’s.

So I say fuck behavioral health. My behavior is just fine. It’s my brain that’s broken. Stop trying to stigmatize me.


About Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is an award-winning writer, speaker and consultant from the Pacific Northwest. She has been living with bipolar disorder for 18 years and has written more than 1000 articles on the subject.

Natasha’s New Book

Find more of Natasha’s work in her new book: Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. Media inquiries can be emailed here.

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