It is important for all people to use person-first language when we talk about serious mental illness (SMI). It helps decrease stigma that can be a barrier to care. It also helps individuals find the support they may need.
The need to use person-first language includes individuals who have SMI, their family members, and their friends. It also extends to all other members of the general public.
It may be hard to spell out how language impacts those who live with SMI. You can 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. You can also share a helpful infographic called Words Matter. It contains clear examples of how to use stigma-free language when we talk about SMI.