It’s All in the Approach: Compassionately Shifting Language

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In this piece for HuffPost, Brooke M. Feldman discusses the importance of shifting language around mental health and addiction in a compassionate way that does not make people feel shamed or attacked for using stigmatizing terms.

“With recognizing what is at play in the task of moving people away from what the language they have been taught to use and the only language they have known, it is imperative that we approach this dialogue from a place of understanding, compassion, patience, respect, empathy and bridge-building rather than attacking, shaming or wronging people. Although those of us who understand the importance of shifting language around mental health and substance misuse must do our due diligence to bring people along whenever and wherever possible, it is critical that we do this in a way that unites rather than divides, that brings people along rather than pushes them further away. It is crucial that we deliver this message in a digestible form for those we are seeking to enlighten and transform. Anything other than that will only further polarize the divide and lead to people hunkering even more deeply down into what they know.”

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