He kupu kōrero, he reo akiaki. Words spoken should be of encouragement.

To promote inclusivity for Aotearoa, we’ve pulled together a glossary to help you choose respectful kupu when talking to our whānau who experience stigma and discrimination.

We work hard to keep this resource up to date but know that language is fluid and changeable. We encourage you to ask about the language and kupu that the people around you prefer. 

Our glossary of terms include kupu that are generally considered safe and appropriate when addressing, or reporting on, whānau with lived experience of mental distress.

Common terms from mental health legislation

Chemical restraint 
Using medicines such as sedatives designed to restrict a person’s movement.

Compulsory treatment 
A court order saying that a person was assessed as being under mental distress and must receive treatment. 

Community treatment order 
When a patient receives compulsory treatment at their own home, or at some other place stated in the order. 

Reconnecting indigenous people to their identity and allowing them to have control over the nation’s development and direction. 

Human Rights Act 
An act that protects people from discrimination. 

Indefinite treatment order 
Compulsory treatment orders give a timeframe where treatment is only enforced for up to six months, however this can be made to have an indefinite ending if the doctor thinks appropriate. 

Inpatient treatment order 
Patient receives compulsory treatment in the hospital. 

Institutional racism 
Racism that is embedded by the laws of society and in the systems and structures that we live by. 

Lived experience 
When someone has experienced mental distress. 

Mana motuhake 
Mana through self-determination and control over your destiny. 

Mental distress 
Covers a range of distressing experiences, emotions and symptoms. These may persist over a period of time and disrupt daily life. 

Physical restraint 
When a person is held still either by a person or by equipment, to restrict their movement. 

Confining a person alone in a room from which they cannot get out.    

Tāngata whaiora 
Meaning ‘a person seeking wellness’, tāngata whaiora refers to people who have lived experience of mental distress. 

Tino rangatiratanga 
Directly translates to ’self-determination’. Tino rangatiratanga is about being able to live in accordance with tikanga. 

Stands for: United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Learn about the Mental Health Act