Strategies to Reduce Stigma | Communication

Aug 23, 2023

All Posts/ Strategies to Reduce Stigma | Communication
Strategies to Reduce Stigma | Communication

Let’s recognize the power of our words in shaping how we think and feel about a subject. The way we talk can either create a supportive or unsupportive atmosphere for employees. Stigmatizing often arises from the use of labels, such as “addict” or “junky,” which are disrespectful and dehumanizing, reducing individuals to a single aspect of their experience. To foster a more empathetic workplace, we can begin by removing such labels and embracing person-first language. Instead of using degrading labels, let’s refer to individuals as “people who use substances,” placing emphasis on their humanity beyond their challenges. By adopting person-first language, we can promote understanding and respect for each person’s complete identity.

Below you can see how many labels can be converted into person-first language:

Person-first languageIdentity-first language
Person who uses substancesAddict, junky
Substance use/substance use disorderDrug abuse
In recovery“clean”
People with a mental health issueThe mentally ill
Person with a mental health issueCrazy, insane
Experiencing/ living withSuffering from/ struggling with
People/individuals without disabilitiesNormal people
They are experiencing anxiety; they are living with depressionThey are anxious; they are depressed
They are living with bi-polar disorderThey are bi-polar
They are living with schizophreniaThey are schizophrenic
They are affected by problematic substance use, alcohol useThey are an addict, a drunk