Mental health matters. You matter.

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Some people find it difficult to talk about mental health and struggle with what to say. The words we use can be a barrier to acceptance. We can reduce stigma by changing how we talk about mental health. Follow our handy tips and you won’t go wrong!

Around 1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health illness this year. We want to increase understanding of the lives of people with mental ill health and make sure people are defined not by their health – but who they are.

Despite the progress made in the past decade, we want to step up efforts to combat negative attitudes that still exist in our society.

The stigma that surrounds mental health is very much built into the words, phrasing, and language of our time. It’s no coincidence words used to abuse often refer to mental health. One very important way in which we can reduce stigma towards mental ill-health in our county is by fundamentally changing how we talk about people living with mental illness and the words we use in every day speech.

This is not about political correctness. If people become worried about saying or doing the wrong thing, they may avoid talking about the really important issue of mental health. It is about seeing people for who they really are – and not defining anyone by their health condition.

That’s why we’re calling for equality and challenging a small number of negative words and phrases. These are some words people with mental ill health find hurtful or harsh because they suggest people are defined by their health condition, are helpless or should be pitied. Quite often the words are simply abusive.

This campaign is just part of the wider work of Oxfordshire Mental Health Partnership, which consists of Restore, Response, Connection Floating Support, Elmore Community Services, Oxfordshire Mind, and Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust. We work on all kinds of issues facing people with mental ill-health, as well as delivering life-changing projects and services so people can thrive in their everyday lives, go to work, enjoying time with family and friends, socialise and travel as usual. People living with mental health problems are not defined by their health needs.

We’ve got some handy tips to help everyone feel more confident talking mental illness, and will be sharing social media graphics on World Mental Health Day.