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Writing and reporting about people living with mental illness or disability can pose challenges in using preferred terminology that is correct without stereotyping or stigmatizing the individual or group.

Mental Health America of Eastern Missouri supports the use of People First language for all communications about mental health and those living with mental illness. People First language refers to speaking and writing in a way that acknowledges the person first, then the condition or disability. It also indicates what a person HAS, not what a person IS. For example, one would use the phrase, "a person has schizophrenia" or "a person with schizophrenia" rather than saying "he's schizophrenic."

The following links connect you to articles that provide more background and practical examples:

Examples of People Frist Language

Language Matters When Writing About Mental Illness


Because media is plentiful and influential in our society, reporting on suicide can have a powerful impact.  The following links connect you to articles written by organizations that specialize in suicide prevention. The articles were written specifically for reporters to help you document the news while also being helpful to your audience.

Safe Reporting on Suicide by Suicide Prevention Resource Center - Research indicates that the way suicide is reported in the media can contribute to additional suicides and suicide attempts. Conversely, stories about suicide can inform readers and viewers about the likely causes of suicide, its warning signs, trends in suicide rates, and recent treatment advances. This video helps reporters cover the subject of suicide in a more meaningful and productive way for the audience.

Best Practices and Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide by Reporting On Suicide - In addition to background information, this article offers suggestions of preferred language and phrases to avoid.


If you're reporting on mental illness and need some documented Fast Facts, click here for data compiled by the national office of Mental Health America.

For a quick overview of the Scope of Issues in Mental Health, click here.

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