Do Words Hurt: Stigma & Language Focus Group Research

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At MDAO we have spoken many times about the use of language and the impact it may have on individuals. Recently, Lisa Hawke, Ph.D., Elizabeth Miazga, B. Sc, and Sagar Parikh, MD. FRCPC held 3 focus group discussions with 19 people at the Mood Disorders Association of Ontario, the Krasman Centre and the University Health Network to explore the relationship between stigma and language. The study confirmed that language plays a role in stigma, and that words can hurt. Participants in the study agreed that there are non-stigmatizing language alternatives that come from a people-first perspective that can be used. This means talking about a person who has a mental illness rather than a mentally ill person, for example. The formal research report is in preparation. Meantime we’ve posted a summary sheet from the Stigma & Language Focus Group Research Project, highlighting strategies for change.