Why Does How We Talk About Mental Health Matter?

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Why Does How We Talk About Mental Health Matter?

We are firm believers in watching what we say and how we say it. Our words carry weight. Although we may intend for our words to mean one thing, they can often be misconstrued to mean another. Of course, we don’t intend to hurt others with our words; but, we must be mindful of when we are using language that could be stigmatizing. We don’t know the battles that others are fighting in their own heads. It’s important to be kind and work toward saying what we mean in a non-judgemental way. 

“Person first” language helps to separate someone’s mental illness and addiction from who they are. Very often we hear of people saying “The addict is in a 12-Step program,” or “The depressed lady quit her job.” By using this language, we are associating the mental illness and addiction with who the person is, instead of the mental illness or addiction being just one part of them. Thus, we can work toward changing how we describe those around us with person-first language. Instead of saying “Addict,” we can say “The person with an addiction.” Instead of saying “The depressed lady,” we can say “The lady with depression.” By using the first-person language, we are working toward eliminating stigmatizing language. We want to bring people closer together, not alienate them with our words. 

Now, why does person-first language really matter? You might be thinking of the saying we all learned as young kids: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” While we wish this were true, we realize it isn’t. Words do hurt, no matter how hard we try to ignore them. How we talk about mental health matters. It matters because people will avoid getting treatment for fear of being stigmatized by those around them. They may be afraid of gossip that goes around in friend groups or seemingly silent whispers of family members. Words impact everything we do. How we say things matters. We’re working toward removing the R-word from our vocabulary. We need to do the same with words associated with mental health. 

Pinnacle Recovery wants to destigmatize mental health by making people mindful of the language they use. Start by using person-first language with yourself. Then, you can start using person-first language with those around you. Once it becomes second nature, you can point out to your friends and family when they are using stigmatizing language. 

If you are doubting reaching out for treatment, know that Pinnacle Recovery is here for you. We want to help you get on the road to recovery. Call us today for more information at 1-866-301-0573. We can’t wait to hear from you.  

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