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SAMHSA ADS Center
Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration
Last Updated: 6/22/2012
What is "people first" language?
Language can have a big impact on how things are interpreted and internalized, by individuals and by society as a whole. It has the potential to offend and also, empower and convey respect. This AskEARN fact sheet on "people first" language lists some of the negative language to be avoided and more appropriate language to use when referring to individuals with disabilities, including people with mental health issues.
The words we use matter. Reducing stigma through language
This brief fact sheet which is an adaptation of Substance Use Disorders: A Guide to the Use of Language provides information on the importance of appropriate language use when working with individuals with substance use disorders. it also provides information on words to avoid.
Language: The importance of language in promoting community inclusion
This brief fact sheet provides an overview of the importance of using of "people-first" language in the promotion of community integration, and provides information on how language change occurs.
Beat the stigma and discrimination! Four lessons for mental health advocates
This handbook focuses on correcting the disparity and increasing both opportunities and resources for people with mental illnesses by reviewing ways in which negative public attitudes might be reduced and more appropriate attitudes might be enhanced.
How to use the media to fight stigma and discrimination (Spanish language version)
This Spanish languge tool kit helps individuals learn how to counteract stigma by working with the media and becoming involved in various anti-stigma initiatives.
Suicide and mental illness in the media: A Mindframe resource for the mental health sector
This resource guide was developed to assist people involved in mental health to communicate effectively with the media about suicide, mental health and mental illness.
Mental illness and stigma: Coping with the ridicule
This fact sheet discussed the effects of labeling and stereotyping someone with a mental illness. The document also provides tips for coping with stigma and stigmatizing situations.
Guidelines for non-handicapping language in APA journals: Committee on disabilities issues in psychology
This fact sheet provides guidelines for the use of appropriate language regarding people with disabilities.
Stigma and Mental Illness
This fact sheet about about labels and stereotyping demonstrates the ways in which words can hurt and the ways in which they can affirm people with mental illnesses. By juxtaposing the ways that 'words can be poison' and the ways that 'words can heal,' the document sets ups do's and don't for the appropriate use of language.
This fact sheet provides examples of appropriate and inappropriate language when discussing mental illness.
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