What are the right words to talk about mental health?

January 10, 2018
On Wednesday, January 24 we’re honoured to welcome Mary Deacon, the Chair of the Bell Let’s Talk campaign, to speak in Winnipeg – exactly one week before Bell Let’s Talk Day once again brings mental health to the forefront of Canadians minds, social media and conversation.

​Recognizing the importance the workplace plays in the lives of Winnipeggers and the effort to end stigma, we’ll be sharing a number of resources from the Bell Let’s Talk campaign throughout January (and beyond). The following language guide is taken from the excellentBell Let’s Talk Toolkit: Starting the Conversation about Mental Health, which provides solid advice and resources for group and one-on-one discussions.​

Respectful language
“person with schizophrenia”
“person with bipolar disorder”
​“person with a disability”
Disrespectful language
“schizophrenic”
“manic depressive”
​“handicapped person”
Empowering language
“person with a mental illness”
Disempowering language
“mentally ill”
“victim”
“sufferer”
“crazy”
“wacko”
​“lunatic”
Do
Put the person first
Become informed about mental illnesses
Speak up about stigma
Talk openly about mental illness
Don’t
Refer to people by their illness
Be judgmental
Let jokes or misinformation go
Treat mental illness as something to be embarrassed about
Terms to avoid
“challenged”
“special”
“normal” or “not normal”
“psycho” or “psychopath” or “demented”
Source: MediaSmarts. (n.d.) Teacher Training Guide.
Retrieved from http://mediasmarts.ca/sites/default/files/pdfs/Lets_Talk_Teacher_Training_Guide.pdf

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Join hundreds of Winnipeggers one week before Bell Let’s Talk Day to discuss the infrastructure, development and future of one of Canada’s most impactful awareness campaigns – and how your organization can participate.