Terminology preferences in mental health
Issues in Mental Health Nursing
Taylor and Francis
School of Nursing and Midwifery / Centre for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Services Research
People with a mental illness may be exposed to stigma which, when internalised, negatively influences self-esteem, personal goal attainment and quality of life. Avoiding the use of stigmatising language and using terminology that does not exclude the positive characteristics of the individual may play an important role in challenging stigma. This study involved a mixed method approach to identify the terminology preferences of people with a mental illness in Australia. N = 173 participants were recruited via convenience sampling. The humanistic terms ‘individual’ and ‘person with lived experience’ were identified as the preferred terms. Qualitatively there was a wide variation in how the terms made the respondents think or feel, with only one of the terms – ‘survivor,’ having solely negative themes. When contrasting the two most commonly used clinical terms, ‘client’ was significantly preferred to ‘patient’. The term ‘consumer’ was one of the least preferred terms. This suggests that the use of this term, which is in regular use in Australia, should be reconsidered.