The correct term for "mentally disabled"

What is it? I’m translating something into English and I can’t for the life of me think about what it is. Is it just that, or something else? Have a feeling we’ll have moved on to a different term, but maybe I’m wrong?

Mind tend to talk about “people with mental health problems” - although this might not quite fit if you’re talking about things like down syndrome - that’s more “intellectual disability” or “learning disability”

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I think learning disability is commonplace now.

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Yeah tbf this is for the synopsis of a zombie film called “Downs of the Dead”, which takes place in what they call “an institution for the mentally disabled” (in Norwegian).

Well, that sounds in very good taste.


As any low budget zombie film does!

The people in charge of the film will know which term they and their stars (who have Down syndrome) want to use, I just want to make sure it’s good in English as well.

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Looks like “people with intellectual disabilities” might be the way to go.

Yeah, I guess that’s a fine line to tread when you’re being schlocky. As cumbersome at it sounds though, I would say something like “residential home for people with learning disabilities” is better than “institution for the mentally disabled”.

(Though now I look at it, residential home feels a bit tautologous. My brother went to a residential college for people with learning disabilities, but I guess it depends whether the “institution” in question has an educational element).

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the widely used Spanish term for this is fucking awful :grimacing:

Most people here are still pretty shit at this tbh, some of my colleagues were arguing if “retard” was acceptable the other day (thankfully it was decided that no, it wasn’t, though the person who used it didn’t seem convinced).


‘Residential facility’ would probably cover all bases, here.

They literally use the word institution in the Norwegian synopsis (we have the same word just adapted into Norwegian spelling etc.) so I’m going to let that one stay I think. It’s currently “insitution for people with intellectual disabilities”.

Yeah, facility feels a bit industrial, but it’s generic enough to be useful.

is this in reference to what I think it is? :grimacing:

I guess the link between ominous “institutions”, like asylums, is quite hard to disentangle from horror film tropes.

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If you think it is a zombie film set in a facility where people with Downs syndrome and other intellectual disabilities live, then yes



The ‘people with…’ is really important in terms of making sure the person is recognised in the phrase.

You know this already.

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Not in all cases, kind of a personal preference thing.

Also, AW got there first :+1:


May have misread, but I think Keith was more emphasising the importance of the use of the word person rather than the specific form? I.e. disabled people or people with disabilities rather than “the disabled”. Well worth calling out though because it’s something that I for one think I’ve missed over time.