National Alliance on Mental Illness launches the Schizophrenia and Psychosis Lexicon Guide: A milestone in mental health communication

If you or a loved one may be experiencing mental health issues, a newly released guide may offer helpful information.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness, the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization, announces the launch of the Schizophrenia and Psychosis Lexicon Guide. This guide will help transform how we talk about, understand and treat schizophrenia and psychosis, representing a significant step in NAMI’s mission to foster understanding, empathy and respect in mental health communication. The new guide is a collaborative effort involving mental health experts, individuals with lived experience, and comprehensive research. This inclusive process ensured that the guide is a well-rounded resource.

“The Schizophrenia and Psychosis Lexicon Guide underscores the crucial role that thoughtful, informed language plays in supporting people with schizophrenia and psychosis,” Dr. Teri Brister, Chief Program Officer at NAMI. “It is a testament to NAMI’s ongoing commitment to improve mental health outcomes and reduce the stigma and discrimination surrounding these conditions,”

The guide is available on NAMI’s website and provides healthcare professionals, caregivers, advocates, and the media with an approach to conversations that respects the experiences of individuals living with these conditions and promotes positive engagement.

“The Lexicon guide is a masterful way to communicate the preferences of people with lived experience to talk about schizophrenia and how not to talk about it,” said Dr. Ken Duckworth, Chief Medical Officer at NAMI. “This is the best of NAMI — bringing expertise from real people who know best how to drive learning and shows how NAMI is leading the way in promoting accurate, respectful, and empathetic communication.”

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No easy test to discover mental illness
According to the NAMI website, trying to tell the difference between expected behaviors and what might be the signs of a mental illness isn’t always easy

There’s no easy test that can let someone know if there is mental illness or if actions and thoughts might be typical behaviors of a person or the result of a physical illness.

Each illness has its own symptoms, but common signs of mental illness in adults and adolescents can include the following:

  • Excessive worrying or fear.
  • Feeling excessively sad or low.
  • Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning.
  • Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria.
  • Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger.
  • Avoiding friends and social activities.
  • Difficulties understanding or relating to other people.
  • Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy.
  • Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite.
  • Changes in sex drive.
  • Difficulty perceiving reality (delusions or hallucinations, in which a person experiences and senses things that don’t exist in objective reality).
  • Inability to perceive changes in one’s own feelings, behavior or personality (”lack of insight” or anosognosia).
  • Overuse of substances like alcohol or drugs.
  • Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes (such as headaches, stomach aches, vague and ongoing “aches and pains”).
  • Thinking about suicide.
  • Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress.
  • An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance.

Mental health conditions can also begin to develop in young children. Because they’re still learning how to identify and talk about thoughts and emotions, their most obvious symptoms are behavioral.

Symptoms in children may include the following:

  • Changes in school performance.
  • Excessive worry or anxiety, for instance fighting to avoid bed or school.
  • Hyperactive behavior.
  • Frequent nightmares.
  • Frequent disobedience or aggression.
  • Frequent temper tantrums.

About the National Alliance on Mental Illness
The National Alliance on Mental Illness is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. Through advocacy, education, support, and public awareness, NAMI strives to ensure that all individuals and families affected by mental illness can build better lives.