Compassionate Language Tips

Arrange News Media Interviews

We are available to assist media professionals cover topics related to mental illness and recovery, suicide prevention, affordable housing development, criminal justice reform and homelessness. If you are a member of the media, please contact Adi McCasland at or 405-250-6331 or Kelly Fry at or 405-831-7419

Our Mission

Our joint mission is to:

    • Enhance public understanding of mental illness, substance disorder, homelessness and suicide
    • Reduce stigma and discrimination
    • Use person-first language
    • Work collaboratively to tell accurate and balanced stories that reveal systemic issues and put faces with difficult issues
    • Raise the awareness of resources within the community

Person-First language


Mental Illness

Avoid saying: 

  • Mentally ill
  • Lunatic
  • Psycho
  • Schizophrenic
  • Insane
  • Crazy
  • Bipolar

Instead, say: 

  • A person with (or experiencing) [a confirmed mental health diagnosis].
  • A person is [disoriented, hallucinating, etc.]
  • A person in recovery from a [confirmed mental health diagnosis].



Avoid saying: 

  • The homeless
  • Street people
  • Homeless man or woman

Instead, say: 

  • A person experiencing homelessness.
  • A person who was formerly homeless.
  • A person without a home.
  • A person living on the streets.


Substance Use

Avoid saying: 

  • Addict
  • Abuser
  • Alcholic
  • Dirty/Clean

Instead, say: 

  • A person with a substance use disorder
  • A person who has a [drug, alcohol, etc.] use disorder.
  • A person in recovery from a [drug, alcohol, etc.] use disorder.



Do not refer to suicide as: 

  • Successful
  • Unsuccessful
  • Failed attempt

Do not say a person has:

  • Committed suicing
  • Killed themselves
Instead, use phrases like: 
  • Died by suicide
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Suicide attempt
  • Suicide ideation 
  • A person who has a [drug, alcohol, etc.] use disorder.
  • A person in recovery from a [drug, alcohol, etc.] use disorder.

Get in Touch

We are here to help you navigate community resources and mental health services. We can provide you with information and resources related to mental health and homelessness, including how to access services, support programs and more.