Taboola Rasa is, most of all, empathic. We value and respect each individual experience. We value stories of diverse backgrounds. We don’t judge and we give room to all stories.
We realise that sometimes it is hard to accept and not judge an individual’s story because it might seem like that person doesn’t want to get help. We still aim to respect other people’s realities even when they don’t intersect with our views.
We accept mental health concerns as an explanation for hurtful behaviour towards others, but we do not accept it as an excuse for continued hurtfulness — nor do we condone it.
We do not pity people with mental health concerns. We empathise.
Taboola Rasa generally doesn’t accept anonymous stories since the main idea is to embrace mental health backgrounds as an experience that should not cause shame. If a story is especially rare and absolutely needs telling because there is no other place it can be told AND an interviewee’s life or livelihood would be put in danger by being features with their real* name, then we may make an exception to publish an interview without revealing a person’s name.
*real name denotes the name a person is publicly known under, it does not mean legal name since we don’t believe in forcing people to use their legal names (e.g. forcing a trans person to use their dead name).
Mental Health, Disabilities & Disorders
The lines between mental health, disabilities and disorder aren’t always clear. So, additionally to promoting awareness for mental health, we also fight for awareness for disorders, disabilities and problems often associated with mental health (e.g. AD(H)D, ASD, learning disabilities, eating disorders, addiction, chronic illness, etc.), as well as giving special attention to marginalised groups who are especially at risk for mental health concerns: LGBTQIA, women of colour, homeless youth, ethnic minorities, etc.
We are clearly anti-discrimination: racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, ageism or any other hate speech or discriminatory language is unacceptable and we reserve the right not to publish interviews that engage in any of that behaviour.
Taboola Rasa does not and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, colour, origin, ancestry, cultural background, socialisation, handicap, religion, gender, gender expression, age, marital status, sexual orientation or sexual behaviour.
You Are Not Your Mental Health Status
We use mental health concern and, to a lesser extent, mental health problem and mental health issue. We also like the term neurodiverse. We try to avoid the term mental illness because of its stigma-laden connotations and we completely condemn the use of normal and not normal to distinguish between people without and with mental health concerns.
A mental health concern shouldn’t define a person. That’s why we refrain from profiling people as, for example, schizophrenic or autistic. Instead, we prefer to use a person diagnosed with schizophrenia or a person on the spectrum. However, we are perfectly okay with someone referring to their own mental health status that way if they want to.
We believe that language is powerful and creates realities. This is why we aim to be inclusive in our language. We respect personal pronouns and believe in using the singular they as an inclusive and/or non-gendering pronoun.
We believe in using language that promotes gender equality and opt not to use collective terms that imply only people of the male gender are included (ex. “You guys…”).
Because language is powerful and can be hurtful, we don’t condone the use of mental health-related words as slurs. We also believe that we need to be careful about the connotation of words. Describing someone with mental health concerns with words like psycho, nutter, schizo or mental (to name only a few) is offensive. However, we don’t think that using words like mad, crazy or insane is problematic when used in non-mental health-related context.
Similarly, we want to be clear on the terms of certain mental health concerns. For example, schizophrenic is often misused as denoting split personalities. We strive to use terms correctly so we don’t contribute to the misunderstanding and stigma surrounding some mental health concerns.
We do not say someone suffers from a mental health problem but, rather, that they’re experiencing, being treated for, or have been diagnosed with a mental health problem.
We are aware that language is a constantly changing thing and that we may adapt our language as time goes on and we remain open to discourse. However, we refuse to discuss why political correctness is imperative. We believe that, in an enlightened society, this really shouldn’t have to be discussed anymore.
For journalists, we recommend the following resources if you want to read up on why language in your reporting matters:
Reporting on Mental Health Conditions (American Psychiatric Association)
Mind Your Language (Time to Change/Media Advisory Service)
We don’t condone the media-fuelled image of “losing one’s battle against a mental health concern” — mental health concerns are not the enemy, the shame and judgement heaped upon them is. While suicide is devastating, we do not believe in blaming people for “taking the easy way out” or “not fighting hard enough”.
We do, however, believe in doing everything we can to prevent suicide by making it possible for people to get the help they seek. There are great organisations who raise awareness for suicide, specifically, and help people through rough times. We recommend that people who find themselves in need turn to one of the following organisations: