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Over The Bridge Donate Mental Health Language

Language shapes how we see the world. The words we choose and the meanings we attach to them influence our feelings, attitudes and beliefs. Our language choices have a powerful effect on how we view mental health and people living with mental health conditions.

“Words can inspire. And words can destroy. Choose yours well.” – Robin Sharma


Activities: The specific steps that will be undertaken in the implementation of a plan; activities specify the manner in which objectives and goals will be met

Adolescence: The period of physical and psychological development from the onset of puberty to maturity

Advocacy Groups: Organizations that work in a variety of ways to foster change with respect to a societal issue

Anxiety Disorder: An unpleasant feeling of fear or apprehension accompanied by increased physiological arousal, defined according to clinically derived standard psychiatric diagnostic criteria


Best Practices: Activities or programs that are in keeping with the best available evidence regarding what is effective


Chat Service: Crisis counseling provided via instant messaging

Comprehensive suicide prevention plans: Plans that use a multi-faceted approach to addressing the problem (e.g. including interventions targeting biopsychosocial, social, and environmental factors)

Confidentiality: The principle in medical ethics that the information a patient or client reveals to a health care provider is private and has limits on how and when it can be disclosed to a third party

Consumer: A person who is using or has used a health service

Contagion: A phenomenon whereby susceptible persons are influenced toward suicidal behavior through knowledge of another person’s suicidal acts

Crisis Center: A facility or call center where people going through personal crises can obtain help or advice, either in person or over the phone

Crisis Counselling: Brief counseling focused on minimizing stress, providing emotional support and improving immediate coping strategies. Like psychotherapy, crisis counseling involves assessment, planning, and treatment, but the scope of service is much more specific

Crisis Hotline: A phone number people can call to get immediate emergency crisis counseling

Community A group of people residing in the same locality or sharing a common interest.

Comprehensive Suicide Prevention Plans: Plans that use a multi-faceted approach to addressing the problem; for example, including interventions targeting biopsychosocial, social and environmental factors.


Depression: A constellation of emotional, cognitive and somatic signs and symptoms, including sustained sad mood or lack of pleasure


Effective: Prevention programs that have been scientifically evaluated and shown to decrease an adverse outcome or increase a beneficial one in the target group more than in a comparison group


Gatekeepers: People in a community who have face-to-face contact with large numbers of community members as part of their usual routine; they may be trained to identify people at risk of suicide and refer them to treatment or supporting services as appropriate


Health: The complete state of physical, mental, and social well being.

Health and safety officials: Law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), and outreach workers in community health programs


Imminent risk: A situation where a person’s current risk status is believed to indicate actions that could lead to his or her suicide

Intervention: A strategy or approach that is intended to prevent an outcome or to alter the course of an existing condition (such as providing lithium for bipolar disorder or strengthening social support in a community)


Means: The instrument or object whereby a self-destructive act is carried out (i.e., firearm, poison, medication)

Means restriction: Techniques, policies, and procedures designed to reduce access or availability to means and methods of deliberate self-harm

Methods: Actions or techniques, which result in an individual inflicting self-harm (i.e., asphyxiation, overdose, jumping)

Mental disorder: A diagnosable illness characterized by alterations in thinking, mood, or behavior (or some combination thereof) associated with distress that significantly interferes with an individual’s cognitive, emotional or social abilities; often used interchangeably with mental illness

Mental health: The capacity of people to interact with one another and the environment in ways that promote subjective well-being, optimal development, and use of mental abilities

Mental health problem: Diminished cognitive, social or emotional abilities, but not to the extent that the criteria for a mental disorder are met

Mental health services: Health services that are specially designed for the care and treatment of people with mental health problems, including mental illness. Includes hospital and other 24-hour services, intensive community services, ambulatory or outpatient services, medical management, case management, intensive psychosocial rehabilitation services, and other intensive outreach approaches to the care of individuals with severe disorders


Postvention:A strategy or approach that is implemented after a crisis or traumatic event has occurred

Prevention:A strategy or approach that reduces the likelihood of risk of onset or delays the onset of adverse health problems or reduces the harm resulting from conditions or behaviors.

Prevention network: Coalitions of change-oriented organizations and individuals working together to promote suicide prevention. Prevention networks might include statewide coalitions, community task forces, regional alliances, or professional groups

Protective factors: Factors that make it less likely that individuals will develop a disorder. Protective factors may encompass biological, psychological or social factors in the individual, family and environment

Psychiatry: The medical science that deals with the origin, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of mental disorders

Psychology: The science concerned with the individual behavior of humans, including mental and physiological processes related to behavior

Public health: The science and art of promoting health, preventing disease, and prolonging life through the organized efforts of society


Risk assessment: The process of quantifying the probability of an individual harming himself or others

Risk factors: Those factors that make it more likely that individuals will develop a disorder; risk factors may encompass biological, psychological or social factors in the individual, family and environment


Screening : Administration of an assessment tool to identify persons in need of more in-depth evaluation or treatment

Screening tools: Instruments and techniques (questionnaires, checklists, self-assessment forms) used to evaluate individuals for increased risk of certain health problems

Self-harm: The various methods by which individuals injure themselves, such as self-cutting, self-battering, taking overdoses or exhibiting deliberate recklessness

Social services: Organized efforts to advance human welfare, such as home-delivered meal programs, support groups, and community recreation projects

Social support: Assistance that may include companionship, emotional backing, cognitive guidance, material aid and special services

Stakeholders: Entities, including organizations, groups and individuals, which are affected by and contribute to decisions, consultations and policies

Stigma: An object, idea, or label associated with disgrace or reproach.

Substance abuse: A maladaptive pattern of substance use manifested by recurrent and significant adverse consequences related to repeated use. This includes maladaptive use of legal substances and illicit drugs

Suicidal act (also referred to as suicide attempt): A potentially self-injurious behavior with a nonfatal outcome, for which there is evidence that the person intended to kill himself or herself. A suicide attempt may or may not result in injuries

Suicidal behaviour: A spectrum of activities related to thoughts and behaviours that include suicidal thinking, suicide attempts, and completed suicide

Suicidal ideation: Self-reported thoughts of engaging in suicide-related behaviour

Suicidality: A term that encompasses suicidal thoughts, ideation, plans, suicide attempts, and completed suicide

Suicide: Death from injury, poisoning, or suffocation where there is evidence that a self-inflicted act led to the person’s death

Suicide attempt survivors: Individuals who have survived a prior suicide attempt

Suicide survivors: Family members, significant others, or acquaintances who have experienced the loss of a loved one due to suicide. Sometimes this term is also used to mean suicide attempt survivors

Suicide warning signs: Indications that an individual is at risk for suicide