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.