We want people to talk about mental health often. The more awareness about mental health, the more chance there is of helping people who are experiencing challenges associated with mental illnesses. If you feel unsure about what language to use when talking about mental health, you are not alone. We are here to help you navigate these important—and potentially life-saving—conversations.
While there are specific terms and phrases to avoid when speaking about mental illness, there are some general rules that can help you choose your words more carefully.
- Anything that reinforces stereotypes, prejudice or discrimination against people with mental illness and suicidal ideation.
- Anything that implies mental illness makes people more creative, fragile or violent.
- Anything that refers to or defines people by their diagnosis.
Choosing our words carefully is about more than avoiding stigmatizing terms. The language we use can also have a positive, empowering effect, which makes choosing the right words just as important as avoiding harmful ones.