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Understanding the terminology of mental health

Before you embark on mentoring or coaching entrepreneurs with a history of mental health and addiction challenges, it’s important to educate yourself on the language of mental health. Consider the labels or names used when referring to an individual with mental health or addiction challenges.


Suggests a passive role. It confines the identity to that of someone in treatment for an illness.


is defined by Webster’s dictionary as “a customer,” especially of legal or accounting services. It thus implies one who voluntarily seeks services. It is also broadly used for various service industries and so is free from stigma.


As in someone who is “a consumer” of care products and services.


This term has been picked up by many government and independent agencies. It is still controversial for some people.


it implies survival of a traumatic event, specifically in this case involuntary treatment for a psychiatric illness. Also controversial. At Rise we want mentor and coaches to see the entrepreneurs as PEOPLE first, not their history. With that in mind, we refer to individuals applying to any of our loan programs as clients since they are voluntarily seeking out our services.”