Information to Fairness Terminology: Selling Behavioral Well being Fairness by way of the Phrases We Use


Within the area of behavioral well being, phrases are sometimes our major instruments. We don’t have hammers and saws, thermometers and stethoscopes, or brushes and palettes. Phrases are highly effective instruments and utilizing them with intention is central to our craft.

“I’ll always remember, years in the past, once I was requested to present a discuss tribes and behavioral well being indicators, I introduced the info displaying larger charges of suicide, alcohol use, earlier ages of initiating substance use, and many others. I assumed I had completed a very good job of documenting ‘want’. Nonetheless, a tribal chief got here as much as me saying I had painted such a adverse view of their neighborhood, I had mentioned nothing in regards to the richness and the survival strengths of their tribe.”

This quote from Larke Huang, Director of the Workplace of Behavioral Well being Fairness (OBHE), underscores how our phrases have the capability to uplift communities or to marginalize them.

How typically have you ever requested your self, “Ought to I say BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, Individuals of Coloration) or Individuals of Coloration? Restricted English Proficient (LEP) or Non-English Language Desire (NELP)? Minority or minoritized? At OBHE, we obtain these questions routinely and wrestle with them typically. There are occasions when a solution is simple, however extra typically, the complexity of the problem results in the response: “It relies upon.” Dealing with this ambiguity, we determined to develop a Information to Fairness Terminology (GET) as a decision-support software. And, in recognition of July as Minority Psychological Well being Month, we’re sharing a preview of the GET.

Rules of Behavioral Well being Fairness Terminology

Equitable terminology refers to consciously choosing phrases that promote inclusivity and respect whereas additionally contemplating who’s represented and who’s absent from the dialog. It’s constructed on the next guiding rules:

  1. Individual-Centered: Prioritizing the entire particular person by contemplating their a number of intersecting identities and qualities, somewhat than decreasing them to a single attribute. This typically includes utilizing person-first language, which places the particular person earlier than their prognosis, incapacity, or different traits. Individual-centered language additionally means deferring to the terminology expressed by people with lived expertise.
  2. Strengths-Based mostly: Highlighting the inherent strengths and property in all people, households, and communities. It seeks to depict folks when it comes to their strengths and property somewhat than completely describing their vulnerabilities and weaknesses by way of a deficit lens. If referencing deficits is critical in our work, then you will need to additionally counterbalance with strengths and property.
  3. Non-Stigmatizing: Avoiding discriminatory, prejudicial, offensive, and stigmatizing phrases. Stigmatizing language creates adverse associations and devalues people, households, and their communities. It can also contribute to internalization of adverse attitudes and beliefs, generally known as self-stigma or internalized stigma, which is usually dangerous to a person’s psychological well being and well-being.
  4. Ever-Evolving: Adapting to modifications in terminology. Language is fluid and modifications with social norms. It is also context-dependent, which means that phrases deemed applicable in a single state of affairs might not be appropriate in one other.

The Energy of Phrases in Behavioral Well being

Shifting Attitudes to Enhance Assist

Equitable terminology can form the tradition round behavioral well being. The phrases we use can affect methods to handle challenges. For instance, the time period “substance abuse” implies a private failure inside a person’s management, cultivating prejudicial beliefs and hindering public assist for treating dependancy as a well being situation. In distinction, utilizing the time period “substance use dysfunction” identifies the problem as a behavioral well being situation, requiring public well being assist. Phrases will be instruments for advocacy that nudge societal attitudes and insurance policies in direction of a extra inclusive and supportive strategy to behavioral well being.

Making a Tradition of Acceptance and Empowerment

Equitable terminology not solely reduces stigma surrounding psychological well being and substance use however also can promote a tradition of acceptance, inclusion, and dignity, the place people will not be devalued primarily based on their behavioral well being standing. This course of can encourage the event of environments that foster empowerment in searching for behavioral well being providers and sources.

Acknowledging Historic and Systemic Influences

Equitable terminology acknowledges the historic and systemic elements that contribute to behavioral well being disparities, together with the affect of social determinants of well being influenced by racism, colonization, ableism, and different types of oppression. As an example, “minority” signifies a numerically smaller group in comparison with “majority,” however the time period “minoritized” implies that societal energy buildings actively marginalize sure teams. This nuanced shift in terminology underscores the lively means of marginalization that unfairly disadvantages particular teams.

Adopting Terminology for Fairness: Some Concerns

  1. Settle for: Perceive that participating in equity-related discussions could generate discomfort, because it typically requires addressing private biases, presumptions, and areas of privilege.
  2. Be Respectful: Acknowledge and respect how folks select to outline and establish themselves.
  3. Study and Pay attention: Embrace the insights from these with totally different life experiences, particularly folks with lived expertise. This would possibly imply unlearning preexisting beliefs and attitudes that not match at this time’s realities.
  4. Be Receptive: Keep open to suggestions and keen to adapt terminology with altering norms.
  5. Take Accountability: When you offend somebody, even unintentionally, take accountability and apologize. Errors are part of being human, and normalizing apologies fosters a protected atmosphere for tough conversations about fairness.
  6. Search Schooling: Discover studying alternatives about equitable terminology, social determinants of well being, and historic and systemic causes of behavioral well being disparities. This info offers context and informs our phrase alternative.
  7. Have interaction: Keep within the dialog, even when uncertain in regards to the appropriate phrases to make use of. Ask questions in good religion.

Information to Fairness Terminology (GET): The Subsequent Steps

This weblog introduces the significance of equitable language and its position in selling behavioral well being fairness, setting the stage for the forthcoming Information to Fairness Terminology. This Information will present additional insights and sensible steering on this very important space. Keep tuned for its launch.




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