Words Matter

Words make a difference when it comes to mental health. These small changes can help to remove the shame, fear and silence that keep many people from seeking help and treatment. The stigma surrounding mental health conditions can be as hard to deal with as the condition itself —and the effects can last long after someone has engaged in recovery.

Everyone can play a role. You can:

  • Use respectful language to talk about mental health conditions
  • Challenge misconceptions when you see or hear them
  • See the person, not the condition
  • Offer support if you think someone is having trouble

Avoid labels such as:

  • Challenged
  • Crazy
  • Demented
  • Normal/not normal
  • Psycho/Psychopath
  • Lunatic
  • Schizo
  • Special
  • Sufferer/Victim
  • Wacko

Use respectful language that does not define someone by an illness:

Instead of… Try
She’s bipolar She has/is living with bipolar disorder
Schizophrenic Person with schizophrenia
Manic depressive Person with bipolar disorder
The mentally ill People with a mental illness/mental health condition
Committed suicide Died by suicide

Sources: NAMI.org