Historically, mental health has been a conversation steeped in shame, secrecy, and stigma.
Conscious language is a powerful tool in the battle against mental health stigma. Providing accurate, neutral information to readers with empathy and inclusivity helps bring them into the conversation — encouraging the release of shame and guilt around this historically loaded topic.
We want to transform shame into empowerment. Our goal is to offer hope in the face of challenge.
Mental health is just as important as physical health, and both are central to well-being. Every person is worthy of care, which is why we advocate for greater access to mental healthcare and resources for each and every person.
And everyone’s mental health journey is different. So, we meet our readers where they are, provide resources that reflect their experiences, and signpost to help them meet their unique needs.
We embrace diverse perspectives and take an evidence-based approach to mental health, leaving judgment at the door. We use a harm-reduction approach, endorsing everyone’s right to stay alive.
They're mentally ill
They have a mental health condition
People who are mentally ill struggle with certain aspects of daily life → Depending on the mental health condition they have, some people might find certain aspects of daily life challenging
They’re living with bipolar disorder
They have a diagnosis of bipolar disorder
If you’re bipolar, it might be harder for you to navigate romantic relationships → If you have bipolar disorder, you might wonder how to navigate romantic relationships
Bipolar disorder patient
Person receiving treatment for bipolar disorder
Some bipolar disorder patients fail their treatment → Some people receiving treatment for bipolar disorder find that their treatment plans aren’t effective
They’re struggling with depression
They have depression
Struggling with depression is common → People who have depression may find certain aspects of life difficult
Associating certain types of sexual activity with a person’s moral character has historically led to groups being excluded from society or being seen as “abnormal” or “amoral.”
Using neutral language in sexual health does not make suggestions as to who someone is as a person. Rather, it provides information in a way that does not shame, judge, or assign blame.
Providing accurate, empathetic, and non-judgmental sexual health information is the first step in preventing unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and HIV through the promotion of healthy sexual behaviors.
Mental health stigma makes it harder for people to seek the treatment they need, to reach out in crisis, and to improve their situation.
This stigma exists around medication options, alternative treatments, therapy, and the mental health conditions themselves.
Breaking down the stigma that surrounds mental health is so important for helping people talk about their mental health and to access life saving therapeutic interventions.
Our Mental Health Guiding Principles
While it would be much easier to list the definitive do’s and don’ts of language, that is not possible — context is critical. Language is always changing and evolving, and any list would soon be out of date. This is why we're always listening for changes. Additionally, there are no definitively "right" or "wrong" answers about what language to use. Context is important, and what works for us might not work for you. While specific word choices will change over time, our community approach first ensures that we are prioritizing those who are the most important to what we do: our readers. See full approach here.