June 19, 2021

In mental health, words do matter

In mental health, words do matter

In mental health the words do matter, and much, according to the Style Guide for media of the Mental Health Confederation Spain, which seeks the collaboration of journalists to eradicate and combat prejudices and myths, more widespread than we think, about this problem.

"Words do matter", name chosen for this publication, part of the basis that the group of people with mental health problems is the most diverse, that we must "make collective conscience because mental health affects us all in their whole "and what must be" to pass on the story of the drama ".

Recognizes that suicide is a historically silenced issue and defends that the media "can be allies in prevention by covering this reality", always following the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) that appear in the campaign #HablaDelSuicido.

The guide focuses on four objectives, with their problems or errors, taken from real facts and headlines, and their solutions or indications:


-No: have prejudices and misconceptions (Example: "Genius and mental disorder, one step").

-Yes: document before reproducing stereotypes.

-No: talk about the sick and mentally ill (A mental patient asks in Congress to eliminate stigmas).

-Yes: talk about people with mental health problems.

– No: label people substantiating their condition (The Supreme recognizes a schizophrenic from Ourense his right to vote).

-Yes: show people in an integral way.

– No: inappropriate use of terms of mental health in other contexts (Schizophrenic barrage of goals in Dortmund).

-Yes: take care of the language so as not to frivolize.

-No: alarmist or morbid headlines (The traumatic life of Sinead O'Connor: abuse, humiliation and a bipolar disorder).

-Yes: talk naturally about mental health problems.

-No: confusing the mental disorder with other disabilities (Congress recognizes the right to vote for 100,000 intellectually disabled).

-Yes: resort to truthful sources to convey accurate information.


-No: images of people in a passive attitude; images that convey sensations such as loneliness and isolation, or fear, anguish, despair and / or imbalance.

-Yes: illustrate concepts avoiding fostering a negative view of mental health.


– No: fall into gender stereotypes.

– Yes: apply the gender perspective

– No: use a paternalistic vision (The story of a mental patient moves Congress).

– Yes: less compassion, more rights.

– No: always show a negative view of mental disorders.

– Yes: Talk about positive mental health.

– No: linking violence and mental health (A mental patient who wanted to kill his mother in Donostia will be admitted to a psychiatric hospital)

– Yes: break the false link violence – mental disorder.

– No: invisibilizing certain groups with mental health problems such as migrants or homeless people.

– Yes: make visible all the groups.

– No: blaming the relatives or the person.

– Yes: Take special care in the contents of mental health in children and young people.


– No: very rarely the information comes directly from people with mental health problems and mostly comes from public institutions of the medical scientific world.

– Yes: let the protagonists also speak so that they can contribute their own experience in the first person.


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