I’ve written before about the importance of language in creating an environment that destigmatizes mental health challenges. Our words have resonance and what we say and how we say it communicates to those around us how we perceive ourselves in relation to others. One phrase that seems to be enjoying renewed overuse recently is the old chestnut, “politically correct.” The implication is that someone is using euphemisms in order to avoid what they perceive to be misplaced social backlash. The mentality that leads one to use this phrase is rooted in selfishness and privilege.
Here’s a handy trick to determine if using the phrase “politically correct” reveals you to be a bully or a jerk. Substitute the words “respecting the dignity of other human beings” in your statement and see how you feel about it. For example, “Following public health guidelines is just caving to political correctness.” Now, let’s try it with the substitution: “Following public health guidelines is just caving to respecting the dignity of other human beings.”
Referring to words and actions as “politically correct” comes up frequently when topics like mental health are discussed. Be an advocate and an ally to those of us for whom mental health struggles are real. Help evangelize the message that our fellow human beings deserve to be treated with dignity.