This month is Mental Health Awareness month. We are all obviously aware of mental health, but we may not always be aware of the words we say and the effect that can have on people who struggle with mental health issues. One movement in the last few years is to ask people to stop using the word “retard”. This gained so much popularity that it even changed the diagnosis name from Mental Retardation to Intellectual Disability Disorder (IDD). Many people use the “R” word not to only to refer to those with this diagnosis but also distort it to call people or things dumb or use it to refer to something they don’t like. They sometimes use it in disgusting ways to bully people and belittle people. This feels insulting to the people and families who deal with IDD. The real people who struggle with learning in school, have difficulty taking care of themselves, or being independent. The real families who have to support their loved ones for the rest of their lives because they are unable to live by themselves or get and keep a job. Mental health awareness can be about being more aware of how your words can affect people around you. There are other phrases we use but may not be aware that can affect those with mental illnesses. Learn more in part 2 of Words Have Meaning.