New research published in the Journal of Counseling & Development found a difference in tolerance toward individuals with schizophrenia depending on whether mental health counselors and counselors-in-training received a survey using the term “schizophrenic” or “person with schizophrenia.”
Participants who received the version with the term “schizophrenic” had attitudes that were more authoritarian, more socially restrictive, and less benevolent.
“Language matters. The words we use can either reduce stigma and improve the quality of care that our clients receive, or our words can make counselors less likely to treat their clients with basic human dignity and respect,” said lead author Darcy Haag Granello, PhD, of The Ohio State University. “The take-home message is clear—all people, even mental health professionals, are affected by the words and labels that we use. We now have empirical evidence that taking the time to utter a few more syllables and include the word ‘person’ has real potential to make a difference in the lives of our clients.”