How can I help people use language that decreases stigma around serious mental illness?

It is important for all mental health clinicians to help people know how to use person-first, stigma free language.

The need to use person-first language includes individuals in your care and their family members. It also extends to all healthcare staff and other members of the general public. Wide use of person-first language helps foster a systemic approach to decrease stigma. It also helps individuals find the support they may need.

Start with a simple explanation. Explain that when we choose to use person-first language, we support another person’s pursuit of healing, progress, and goals. To reinforce this, you can use and share a helpful infographic from SMI Adviser called Words Matter. This free download contains clear examples of how to use stigma-free language when you talk about serious mental illness.


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