One in five Americans experiences a mental health disorder in any given year. People living with a mental health condition may face rejection, bullying and discrimination.
Even a small act like changing the words we use could make a difference by helping to avoid stigma and allowing people to feel comfortable talking about their mental health. Here are some tips to help you reframe how to talk about mental health.
REMOVE words that might reinforce stereotypes and minimize the importance of understanding mental health conditions. Make an effort to remove words like crazy, nutty, head case, lunatic or others from everyday use and instead use specific terms when referring to conditions.
REWORD how you describe someone with a mental health condition. A disorder does not define the person. For example, phrases like “someone who lives with a mental health condition” or “someone who is affected by a mental health condition” may be more compassionate than “someone who suffers from a mental health condition.”
REMEMBER, no matter how much we care for someone or how well-intended we might be, the words we use matter. A simple change in vocabulary could be all the more meaningful to someone living with a mental health condition.
For more information about destigmatizing language, visit the Recovery Research Institute’s Addictionary.
Lastly, there’s no shame in seeking help for mental health. Read more about finding the right care for you.