Skip to main content

Visions Journal

A reminder that this article from our magazine Visions was published more than 1 year ago. It is here for reference only. Some information in it may no longer be current. It also represents the point of the view of the author only. See the author box at the bottom of the article for more about the contributor.

The Language We Use to Talk About Mental Health and Substance Use


PDF | EPUB | Vol. 14, No. 1 (2018)

Words matter. They impact the assumptions we make about others, the way we understand someone else’s experiences, and the value we place on others. When it comes to mental health and substance use, there are many different kinds of words. We can easily think of words used to stereotype, label, or hurt people. Mental health as a system and mental health professionals in that system also use their own language. Words can be a way to emphasize power or prevent people from taking charge of their rights or their recovery. Labels like the name of a diagnosis can be confusing and hold stigma. While it’s easy to focus on the ways that words can harm, the right words can heal. Helpful language makes people feel heard, included, and supported. The right language helps us communicate clearly, respectfully, and with hope. In this issue of Visions, you’ll see the power of the right words.


Experiences and Perspectives

Alternatives and Approaches


Stay Connected

Sign up for our various e-newsletters featuring mental health and substance use resources.

  • eVisions: BC's Mental Health and Substance Use Journal, a theme-based magazine
  • Healthy Minds/Healthy Campuses events and resources
  • Within Reach: Resources from HeretoHelp
  • Jessie's Legacy eating disorders prevention resources, events and information

Sign up now