The Anti-Stigma Thesaurus: Rewriting the Language of Mental Health

The Anti-Stigma Thesaurus: Rewriting the Language of Mental Health

Despite how the nursery rhyme goes, words can hurt. They can also be used to reinforce mental health stigma, particularly in crime fiction. Words are powerful - and "with great power comes great responsibility". The longevity and influence of words can be epitomised in that one quotation, first used centuries ago and popularised by a comic book adaptation. Words are the building blocks of the writer's craft. They are our weapons and our tools. We can fuss for hours over the right choice of word to fit a sentence, a tone, a character. When it comes to fighting mental health stigma, we need to choose our weapons carefully. The last time I wrote about this, I merely complained that writers should do better. This time, I'm going to do better. The following words and phrases are all in common usage but have the potential to be harmful to people with mental health problems and reinforce stigma about them. I have here presented alternatives that...
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