Language Used in the Public Policy Platform

Throughout this document, we use a variety of terms, including “serious mental illness,” “mental illness,” and “mental health condition” to be clear how we apply policy in different situations. For example, policy on early identification may refer to “emerging mental health conditions” because early identification addresses a variety of conditions, some of which will not develop into serious mental illness. Policy on individuals who are homeless may refer to “serious mental illness” because the symptoms of serious and untreated mental illness can contribute to homelessness.

Our language always respects the integrity and the individuality of the people affected by these illnesses. All NAMI documents and NAMI co-authored documents use language that puts people first. For example, "individuals living with serious mental illness" instead of "mentally ill people" or "the mentally ill"; “people living with schizophrenia” instead of “schizophrenics,” and "people who are not criminally responsible" instead of "the criminally insane."