Words really do matter. I am in the process of developing an online presentation for adults on mental health and wellness so that they may assist students in their post – secondary programs. As I think about what I will say I recognize that my words matter. What I say could potentially influence educators. What they say to their students could potentially transform what happens for the students and their families. Mental health literacy matters, stigma matters , words matter.
Sometimes I hear people use words way too loosely when describing someone with a mental illness or someone who has special needs or challenges. They may say so and so is an ADHD kid or so and so is bipolar, an alcoholic etc. It matters to me when I hear words used inappropriately as I believe strongly that we are people first ( the labels used like ADHD are only a very small way of telling us something about someone). We are so much more. Who we truly are cannot or should not be described in a few words.
So the next time you find yourself using the label first STOP and THINK about the power of your words. Jack or Jill may have a million attributes that are positive and when you use one word to define them you are missing such huge pieces of who they truly are. So eliminate so and so is a developmentally delayed child etc. and say their name and the many wonderful things about them. When you do this you start to perceive them differently. You also begin to treat each human being , each child in your care with so much more dignity and respect.
Words really do matter
Words can bring about acceptance
Words can hurt or heal
Words can hold back or help
Words can break hearts or touch hearts
Words can build others up or tear them down
Words allow people to tell their stories
Words give people their voices
Words can challenge us to be resilient
Words can give us the strength to carry on … to give us HOPE
Words can ruin someone’s day or make someone’s day
Words have the power to change others and change ourselves
What words will you use when speaking about and to your students today?