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Labelling Mental Helth Issues: Good Or Bad?

There are good labels and bad ones
There are good labels and bad ones

I’m have ADHD. But I’m also ALFF or Always Looking For Fun. What’s in the word “label” that makes us cringe so?

If someone said you were among the “kindest people” would you be offended? Not likely (unless they were describing the crowd you were hanging out with and suggesting you didn’t belong).

Okay, here’s a better example. Every Saturday morning I go to the local Farmer’s Market to pick up whatever I need, eggs, fish, honey, veggies, bread. I also always get my breakfast there.

The young woman who takes orders is in a situation where she needs to remember who ordered what. So she looks critically at the customer and adds to the bottom of their order a description of the orderer. It could be “pink shirt” or “orange scarf” or “leather purse.” You get the idea. Some of her customers are people she knows by name, that makes the label easy. Some of them are people she knows as customers, but not anywhere else, the regulars.

I’m a regular. We know each other only in this context. But someone has told her that I write a blog. So on the bottom of my order, every Saturday morning, the word “blogger” is written.

I have no problem with that

That’s a label I have no problem living with, obviously. And there are other things besides being recognized by my accomplishments that are okay as well.

On the other hand, if someone said “Pay no attention to him, he’s just a blogger.” then I’d have a double problem with that.

It seems that the label isn’t the problem, it’s the opinion the labeller assigns to the label that is the issue.

What use are labels anyway

I’ve written about the need for labels in the health community, their purpose is to group together individuals who would benefit from a predetermined course of treatment. It’s the point in time when someone uses the label to exclude some individual from the rest of the population that it becomes a negative thing.

Kind of like when I suggest that the normans, the Neuro-typicals and the people suffering from Delusions of Normalcy aren’t really good enough to hang with my crowd.

In my defence, I’ve never actually applied that judgment on anyone, never actually exercised that sanction. But I’ve talked the talk.

So what’s the deal?

So what’s the deal with trying to dissuade people from labelling if there are times when it is quite welcome? I think the deal is that labelling should never be used to judge anyone, only to assist people. Like that age old adage says, “If you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all.”

Labelling Mental Helth Issues: Good Or Bad?

Kelly Babcock

I was born in the city of Toronto in 1959, but moved when I was in my fourth year of life. I was raised and educated in a rural setting, growing up in a manner I like to refer to as free range. I live in an area where my family history stretches back 6 or more generations. I was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 50 and have been both struggling with the new reality and using my discoveries to make my life better. I write two blogs here at Psych Central, one about having ADHD and one that is a daily positive affirmation that acts as an example of finding the good in as much of my life as I possibly can.

Find out more about me on my website: writeofway.

email me at ADHD Man

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APA Reference
Babcock, K. (2013). Labelling Mental Helth Issues: Good Or Bad?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 18, 2018, from


Last updated: 28 Nov 2013
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 28 Nov 2013
Published on All rights reserved.