What you can do

Beyond Labels
beyond labels hero image


Discover how you can make a difference by reducing stigma in your workplace and community.


Make a commitment to stop using words that stigmatize, dehumanize and are harmful to others.

And not just when you’re talking to someone with a stigmatized health condition. It might not always seem obvious, but how we speak and the words we put out into the world affect the perceptions and attitudes around us. Health conditions and the challenges someone is facing can be invisible. You don’t always know who you are talking to and who else is listening.


Person-first language puts the person before the diagnosis. It emphasizes the person, not their medical condition or disability. Rearranging words is a powerful way to not let the diagnosis define the person.

To see alternative language for some stigmatizing words, click on the diamonds below.


You don’t have to alter your entire workplace or community to help reduce stigma. Small changes can have an impact and lead to even bigger changes.

Here are 6 ways you can reduce stigma, starting with quick wins and leading to bigger efforts.

1. Be aware of your own prejudice

A first step toward reducing stigma is to recognize that you hold judgmental attitudes and beliefs. Try reflecting and reframing automatic thoughts. Download our tool.

2. Always use person-first language

By using person-first language—“someone with opioid use disorder” as compared with “an addict”—you can also change others’ beliefs and perceptions. Don’t perpetuate stigma by defining people by their condition or situation. Download our tool.

3. Educate yourself and others

Show this toolkit to your coworkers, friends, and family who might want to reduce stigma. Share on social media how you’re making a difference to reduce stigma.

4. Make your work a “judgment-free zone”

Encourage your workplace to sign a letter of commitment to be free from judgment and stigma. Also, consider asking employees to sign a pledge or you can post “judgment-free zone" signs around the building.

5. Start conversations about stigma

Share your own experiences with stigma to build empathy with others. Instead of calling out an individual for stigmatizing behaviors, share a time when you internalized negative beliefs based on stereotypes. Download tips for talking about stigma in your organization.

6. Form a stigma-free task force

Gather a team of people across all levels of your workplace or organization and kick off a stigma-free task force by developing an action plan to reduce stigma. The task force can organize special events or trainings about reducing stigma. Download our tool on ideas for action.