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Key Terms

Helpful language tools and guidance for discussing mental health concerns with youth.
Part of the Well Beings Mental Health Language Guide.

Ableist Language: Referring to words, phrases, and sentiments that are offensive and/or exclusionary to people with disabilities.

Agender: A person who does not identify as any gender.

Anxiety: Feeling uneasy, worried, and/or nervous about what is to come; a reaction to stress.

BIPOC: Referring to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.

Bipolar Disorder: A mental condition that causes atypical changes in mood, ability to concentrate, level of activity, performing and day-to-day tasks.

Bullying: The act of harming, coercing, and/or intimidating a person who appears vulnerable.

Cisgender: A person whose gender assigned at birth matches their gender identity.

Deadname: To refer to a transgender person by their birth name, as opposed to the name they chose in transition.

Depression: Feelings of sadness and/or loss of interest that hinder one from participating in or enjoying typical activities.

Gender: A social construct that dictates the characteristics of those who fall along the spectrum.

Gender Identity: The way in which a person expresses their gender. Can correspond with a person’s sex at birth or differ from it completely.

Genderqueer: Referring to a person who does not conform to binary gender; non-binary (note: not a derogatory term).

Insecurity: An anxiety-inducing feeling of uncertainty in oneself; lack of confidence.

Lived Experience: Personal knowledge of the world based on first-hand participation in events rather than through other people’s descriptions.

Mental Health: The state of a person’s emotional and psychological well-being. This includes one’s ability to cope with
everyday stresses and working productively.

Misgender: To refer to a transgender person in a manner that does not coincide with their gender identity.

Non-Binary: A person who identifies as neither male, nor female; genderqueer.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): Characterized by recurring thoughts and fears (obsessions) that compel an individual to engage in repetitive actions (compulsions).

Psychological Disorder: An irregularity of the mind that results in lasting behaviors that seriously affect day-to-day functioning. Also referred to as a mental disorder.

Schizophrenia: A lifelong condition that affects the individual’s ability to interpret reality normally. Effects may include
delusions, hallucinations, and disabling thinking and behaviors that may impair daily functioning.

Sex: Physical distinguishers determined at birth, based on biological characteristics.

Stigma: Shame and/or dishonor placed upon a person based on their circumstances.

Suicide: The act of taking one’s life.

Trigger: Actions, thoughts, and/or stimuli that can cause extreme distress or emotional overwhelm.

Transgender: A person who identifies as a gender different from the one they were assigned at birth. is a mental health resource, not a crisis or suicide response website. If you are in crisis, or experiencing thoughts of suicide, please text the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741), or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Both services are free and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.