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Compassionate Care Requires Careful Choice of Words

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Compassionate Care Requires Careful Choice of Words

Words matter, and nowhere is this more true than in the treatment of mental health and substance use disorders. Calls have grown stronger for eliminating the use of terms that can discourage people in need from pursuing treatment. We at Furniture Concepts pledge to avoid the use of stigmatizing language on our social media platforms and other public forums, in keeping with our mission to support evidence-based, compassionate care.

The settings in which patients receive care also can serve to lift up or bring down. Offering a home-like environment delivers the message that individuals with mental health or substance use disorders matter, and deserve the best of care. We can help you create residential or outpatient environments that are adaptable to patients’ changing needs and encourage community interaction that supports a healthy recovery.

In a blog posted last January for Psychology Today, physician and clinical mental health writer Kristen Fuller, M.D., wrote that the words we see or hear generate an “associative activation” in the brain. This unleashes a series of cognitive, emotional, and physical responses that occur beyond the individual’s conscious control. The reactions to hearing stigmatizing terms such as “addict” can harm a person’s self-esteem at a most vulnerable time.

Changing commonly used terms can therefore have a positive effect on both the patient community and the public in general. Among her recommendations on non-stigmatizing language, Fuller advocates use of “substance use disorder” over “addiction,” “use/misuse” instead of “abuse,” and “survived a suicide” over “failed attempt.”

As a partner in this field, we are committed to “talking the talk” as well as “walking the walk.” Join us as we commit to using terminology that shuns labels based on illness, and instead supports person-centered care.

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