We challenge you to think about the words we may use like “crazy” or “insane” and how they can be hurtful to a person with a diagnosable illness or disability. These words can leave a person feeling rejected or alone, and perpetuate mental health stigma.
We encourage you to review the guidelines for Non-Handicapping Language from the American Psychological Association. This resource offers an enriching list of definitions, examples and the following basic principles for non-handicapping language:
- Put people first, not their disability
- Do not label people by their disability
- Do not label persons with disabilities as patients or invalids
- Do not overextend the severity of a disability
- Use emotionally neutral expressions
- Emphasize abilities, not limitations
- Avoid offensive expression
- Focus on the right and capacity of people with disabilities to express their own goals and preferences and to exercise control over their own services and supports
- See people with disabilities as a resource and as contributing community members, not as a burden or problem.
The best way to know how to refer to another person is to ask them. Every person is unique – so be respectful, do not make assumptions or label someone based on a certain disability or diagnosis.
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