Instagram recently blocked many mental health related hashtags like #suicide, #cutting, and #schizophrenic. As an advocate, I question why we are blocking the language — and therefore the discussion — surrounding of mental illness at all. But, as a schizophrenic, I’m deeply concerned that Instagram determined my illness is offensive and/or inappropriate.

In my research, I noticed that the hashtag “schizophrenia” is still allowed. I do have schizophrenia but — on Instagram — I’m not permitted to be schizophrenic. This is an odd distinction to draw and I suspect the well-intention, yet terribly misinformed, people behind person first language have influenced this decision. I’m sure many people consider limiting the words people can use to openly discuss mental illness is a victory. But I don’t. Because it’s another barrier to discussion, education, and ultimately understanding.

I want to openly discuss schizophrenia because I’m a schizophrenic. I don’t understand what rules I have to follow outside of being respectful to my fellow Instagrammers? Blocking the word “schizophrenic” has now let everyone know that the illness I live with is offensive. People are afraid of asking questions for fear they will be labeled rude, stigmatizing, or discriminatory.

I have no doubt Instagram believes they helped people like me today and I am equally sure people will claim a victory over limiting the ways that people can access information and education about mental illness. As a person who lives with schizophrenia or as a schizophrenic — your choice — I can tell you with absolutely certainty that this did nothing to make my life better. I will never understand why we argue this nonsense about the right language.

When can we talk more about access to healthcare?

Is Instagram Saying Being Schizophrenic is Offensive?

Michelle HammerFounder, Schizophrenic.NYC
Hi, I’m Michelle the schizophrenic founder of Schizophrenic.NYC. At 27, I decided I wanted to use my artistic talents, and fearless personality, to do something that could benefit the mental health community. In May 2015, I founded the company Schizophrenic.NYC, which is a clothing line with the mission of reducing stigma by starting conversations about mental health.