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Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) Resources

This guide is designed to support the study and practical application of resources related to DEI topics.

Key Terms

Body composition - The proportion of a human's body fat to lean body mass. Body fat is all of the fat in the body, including lipids and nonessential fats such as fat cells and fat tissues. Lean mass, or lean tissue, is everything in the body that is not fat, including bones, organs, muscles, tissues, and water. Body composition is expressed as a percentage of body fat and a percentage of lean mass. 

Body Image - Refers to the way a person perceives their physical appearance, how they feel about their perception, what they think and believe about their body, and how they behave as a result. Although concerns about body image are most often associated with adolescents, who are just beginning to understand their bodies and can often be exposed to tremendous pressure from peer groups in school, body image is an element of all stages of life as a person ages.

Body Mass Index - Refers to the measurement of a person using weight in relation to height. Despite its limitations, many studies have found correlations of correct BMI assessments with body fat rate, making it a reliable method. It is also useful to help assess the health risks of people who suffer from eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia. It is not, however, a diagnostic tool. 

Body Positivity - A movement that strives to teach people to accept their bodies as they are and accept the changes that bodies go through during a lifetime. The body positivity movement is related to the fat acceptance movement and the idea of self-love, but they are not the same. Body positivity became especially popular in the late 2010s. However, some people feel that the main message of accepting all bodies as they are has become lost, as many companies have used the term body positivity in an effort to sell merchandise and services to consumers.

Body Shaming - The action or practice of humiliating someone by making mocking or critical comments about their body shape or size.

Condition -  A general term for diseases, lesions and disorders; often excludes mental health, where disorder is preferred.

Diagnosis -  A methodical evaluation of symptoms and complaints through interview, observation, testing instruments, or procedures, including biological tests, to determine if an illness is present.

Disease -  Condition that impairs the normal function of a person, plant or animal. Diseases can be communicable (spread to a person from an animal, the environment or another person – eg measles, HIV, malaria, influenza) or noncommunicable (caused by environmental or genetic factors – eg cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases)

Disorder - A synonym for disease (ie a functional abnormality), used for noninfectious conditions such as physical, metabolic or mental conditions; in mental health, mental disorder is preferred to mental illness

Fat Acceptance -  Refers to broad-based social activism that seeks to end discrimination against overweight and obese individuals. Advocates in the FA movement allege that overweight and obese individuals face various forms of subtle and overt prejudice, discrimination, and unfair treatment due to their body size. 

Infection - Invasion of the body by disease-causing organisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites.

Illness (sickness) -  A synonym for disease but often used to indicate the person’s experience of a disease (ie a person can have a disease without being ill or sick).

Obesity - A condition in which the body carries excessive and unhealthy amounts of fat tissue, leading the individual to weigh in excess of 20 percent more than his or her ideal weight.

Signs & Symptoms of Disease - Characteristics of a disease state perceived either by the affected individual (symptom) or by someone other than the affected individual (sign).

Sizeism -  Prejudice or discrimination on the grounds of a person's size or weight.

Stigma - A set of negative beliefs that people hold about another individual or group of individuals. Mental health stigma is a set of negative, and often unfair, prejudices about people who suffer from mental health conditions.

Syndrome - The occurrence of several associated medical signs, symptoms or other characteristics (eg Down syndrome)

Wellness - René Dubos proposed a broader definition of health that had multiple dimensions and levels. To reach the highest level of health individuals must maximize their potential in each of six dimensions. Simply defined, wellness is the process of actively seeking good health. Health can be divided into the following dimensions: physical, social, intellectual, emotional, spiritual, environmental, financial, and occupational. Optimal wellness requires individuals to achieve their potential in all of the dimensions.

Examples of Bias-Free Languageā 2 

The following table illustrates are examples of bias-free language for mental health although the preferred examples can be used for health in general. Both problematic and preferred examples are presented. 

Problematic Preferred Explanation

‘Mental patient’, ‘nutter’, ‘lunatic’, ‘psycho’, ‘schizo’, ‘deranged’, ‘mad’

A person is ‘living with’ or ‘has a diagnosis of’ mental illness

Certain language sensationalizes mental illness and reinforces stigma.

‘Victim’, ‘suffering from’, or ‘affected with’ a mental illness

A person is ‘being treated for’ or ‘someone with’ a mental illness

Terminology that suggests a lack of quality of life for people with mental illness.

A person is ‘a schizophrenic’, ‘an anorexic’

A person is ‘being treated for’ or ‘someone with’ a mental illness

Labelling a person by their mental illness.

‘Crazed’, ‘deranged’, ‘mad’, ‘psychotic’

The person’s behaviour was unusual or erratic

Descriptions of behaviour that imply existence of mental illness or are inaccurate.

‘Happy pills’, ‘shrinks’, ‘mental institution’

Antidepressants, psychiatrists or psychologists, mental health hospital

Colloquialisms about treatment can undermine people’s willingness to seek help.

‘Psychotic dog’, using ‘schizophrenic’ to denote duality such as ‘schizophrenic economy’

Reword any sentence that uses psychiatric or media terminology incorrectly or out of context

Terminology used out of context adds to misunderstanding and trivialises mental illness.

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Auday, Bryan C., et al. "Infection," Magill’s Medical Guide. Vol. Seventh edition, Salem Press, 2014.

"Body Shaming," Lexico, https://www.lexico.com/definition/body_shaming

"Condition, disease, disorder, illness, syndrome," Australian Manual of Scientific Style,  https://www.sciencestyle.com.au/condition-disease-disorder-illness-syndrome.

DeAngelo, LeAnna, PhD, et al. “Obesity,” Magill’s Medical Guide (Online Edition), 2019. EBSCOhost.

Dewey, Joseph, PhD. “Body Image,” Salem Press Encyclopedia, 2020. EBSCOhost.

García, Justin D., PhD. “Fat Acceptance Movement,” Salem Press Encyclopedia, 2020. EBSCOhost.

Harmon, Angela. “Mental Health Stigma,” Salem Press Encyclopedia of Health, 2020. EBSCOhost.

"Language and stigma," https://everymind.org.au/mental-health/understanding-mental-health/language-and-stigma.

Mazzei, Michael. “Body Composition,” Salem Press Encyclopedia of Health, 2020. EBSCOhost

Mercadal, Trudy, MA. “Body Mass Index (BMI),” Salem Press Encyclopedia of Health, 2019. EBSCOhost.

Piotrowski, Nancy A., PhD. “Medical Diagnosis,” Magill’s Medical Guide (Online Edition), 2020. EBSCOhost.

"Sizeism," Lexico, https://www.lexico.com/definition/sizeism

Standen, Claire L., PhD. “Understanding Disease Signs and Symptoms,” Magill’s Medical Guide (Online Edition), 2020. EBSCOhost.

Wilson, Bradley R. A. “Wellness,” Salem Press Encyclopedia of Health, 2020. EBSCOhost

Zukauskas, Rebecca. “Body Positivity,” Salem Press Encyclopedia of Health, 2019. EBSCOhost.

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