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General Guidelines

The information below has been reproduced with the kind permission of the Mental Health Coordinating Council. You can view the host content here


Our language:


  • Represents the meanings we have constructed from experience


  • Prompts attitudes, expectations and actions


  • Should always reflect unconditional positive regard for people.



We may be unaware of the impact our words have on our attitudes as well as upon those around us.



The words we choose reflect our attitudes; that we do (or do not) truly value people, believe in and genuinely respect them.



None of us should be defined by our difficulties or diagnoses, or by any single aspect of who we are; we are people first and foremost.


Our language needs to be:


  • Respectful


  • Non-judgemental


  • Clear and understandable


  • Free of jargon, confusing data, and speculation


  • Carrying a sense of commitment, hope and presenting the potential for opportunity.



We need to give thought to:


  • How our language is read/heard by the person to whom we are referring, and could positively contribute to their health and wellbeing (or otherwise)

  • What meanings we present to people to live by.



Our language conveys thoughts, feelings, facts and information, but beyond that, we need to ask ourselves questions like:

  • What else am I saying?


  • How will someone else read/hear this?


  • Do I give a sense of commitment, hope and present opportunity or a sense of pessimism?


  • Do I convey an awareness and expectation of recovery?


After more specific guidelines?


Click here



  1. Mental Health Coordinating Council Inc (MHCC) (2013) MHCC Recovery Oriented Language Guide, Sydney, Australia

      Available from: MHCC Organisation Builder- Policy Resource: (accessed 2/11/2015)


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