• Lucas North

Word twist... mental health awareness

I'm focusing on three words that connect to mental health awareness week:

  • Sadness

  • Tech

  • Nature

Sadness Scarlett Moffatt talks about her own sadness in a great little video on the BBC website. I love Scarlett. Her stick-dry wit and searing honesty on Gogglebox made her something of a household name even before she won ‘I’m A Celebrity’ in 2016. This is her quip on the subject of evaporated milk, for example: “How would you add evaporated milk? It’s not there!” Common sense par excellence. In the video, Scarlett is talking about sadness in its original sense, as a synonym for unhappiness (she’s talking about her experiences of being trolled). But, if I asked, say, one of my teenage sons for a definition of the word ‘sad’, he would probably look me up and down and say it means hideously unfashionable. Gulp! Seriously, it’s as if young people are distancing themselves from the word's original meaning in favour of a more flippant definition.

Read research on the stress-busting effects of nature on mental health on the MHF's website. Photo by Paola Chaaya/ Unsplash


This week I read a great Forbes' report. It discusses Oxford University research that finds no link between the time teens spend on tech and mental health. Of course, I should have already known this because my own kids tell me the same thing every time I ask them to put their phones down.

Fewer teens will know the word comes from the Greek ‘tekhnologia’, meaning ‘systematic treatment, from tekhne, art, craft’. The suffix ‘-logy’ denotes a study of interest’ (Oxford Dictionary). Hence, biology (bios is life); cosmology (related to the cosmos); and zoology (you can work this one out for yourselves).


I’ve picked on the word 'nature' because the Mental Health Foundation asks us to focus on it to help mitigate feelings of depression. The foundation’s short video tells us that more than half of adults in the UK consider nature a stress-buster.

The word comes from the Latin ‘natura’ which means ‘birth, nature, quality, from nat- (born), from the verb nasci’. This may explain why we feel alive again when we go for a walk in the woods.

Those of you who noticed the verb ‘nasci’ may have made the connection to nascent, an adjective that means just coming into existence. So, you could talk about a nascent mobile device, for example, to provide the sense that it is something just coming into being. Or that it's something new for your teenage kids to argue with you about…

Thanks for reading. Enjoy the rest of the week.

Get in touch if you want any help with your wordy stuff.

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