These definitions apply to a mental health context. Some of the definitions were agreed by the peer researchers whilst others have emerged from the evidence from both local, national and academic sources and  have been re-worked for the context . We do not see this as a definitive or exhaustive list of definitions, but a starting point.

Can you help us with this glossary? If you have some thoughts or suggestions about these definitions, we’d love to hear from you. Please contact


Activities: What we do

Asset: To transform the perception of people from passive recipients of services and burdens on the system into one where they are equal partners in designing and delivering services

Asset-based approach: This approach seeks to build on the existing strengths of  social and human resources of a community – its social capital, its networks, its motivation and its capacity instead of focusing on negatives such as deprivation, disorder and need.

Attitude: A way of thinking,  feeling, belief, towards something or someone.


Behaviour: An action or reaction that occurs in response to an event or internal stimuli.


Capacity building: Methods of support (such as training or mentoring) to help people develop the confidence and skills necessary for them to achieve their goals independently. The capacity people need depends both on their existing abilities and on the situation they face.

Change Network: Change Networks are when people come together, share ground- breaking ideas to help improve the lives of people who experience mental health stigma and discrimination.What makes them unique is that at least 50% of the members have lived experience and all partners bring influential professional expertise, skills and resources.

Citizenship: In the narrowest sense, 'citizenship' is used to refer to the status of being a member of a particular political community or state with rights and responsibilities that are defined in law, such as the right to vote and the responsibility to pay tax. Citizenship also refers to involvement in public life and affairs – that is, relationships between citizens, communities (global to local) and our multiple identities. It is about individuals being enabled and encouraged to be active citizens and take part in a wide range of activities – from voting in elections and standing for political office to taking an interest in local community activities that affect their own lives.

Co-design: The process of designing a project, activity or process in partnership with people that will use or deliver it. This is closely related to co-production.

Co-Production: Co-production means designing and delivering projects and public services in an equal and reciprocal relationship between professionals, people using services, their families and their neighbours. This approach recognises that people have assets which complement and challenge each other. Co-production is a process that draws on the knowledge, ability and resources of people to develop solutions to issues that can be successful, sustainable and cost-effective, changing the balance of power between the professional and the person accessing support.

Community Champion: An individual with lived experience of mental health issues who is  passionate about making a difference by identifying locally, in their own community,  where discrimination exists and challenging it through projects and local action.

Contact Theory (Also known as Social Contact Theory): Social contact aims to challenge stigmatising attitudes through planned interactions between people who have experienced stigma and discrimination due to their mental health, and members of targeted groups in the community (like employers or health care professionals). There is evidence to suggest that this method is effective in changing attitudes even in those who hold the most stigmatising views. Social contact can be less effective when a power imbalance exists between the members of the stigmatised and stigmatising groups.

Community development: Community development is concerned with change and growth - with giving people more power over the changes that are taking place around them, the policies that affect them and the services they use.It is relevant to all levels of participation. It seeks to enable individuals and communities to grow and change according to their own needs and priorities rather than those dictated by circumstances beyond their boundaries. It seeks to empower individuals and groups of people by providing these groups with the skills they need to affect change in their own communities. These skills are often concentrated around building political power through the formation of large social groups working for a common agenda.

Critical Friend: A critical friend is someone who is encouraging and supportive, but who also provides honest and often candid feedback that may be uncomfortable or difficult to hear. A critical friend can build confidence in network partners to help them to take risks and to experiment with new ways of working. They question thinking and to offer alternatives and new ideas.

Crowdsourcing: Building services or products by inviting contributions from a large group of people, especially an online community.


Discrimination is when someone treats you less positively or appropriately than other people because of your mental health. Examples of discriminatory behaviour include: not inviting someone for a job interview based on disclosure of a mental health problem, harassment, intimidation, name calling, humiliation.


Education aims to increase knowledge and understanding of mental health problems at social, community and individual levels, thereby changing attitudes leading to behaviour change. While education programmes do appear to be effective in changing attitudes, little research has been carried out into whether effects are sustained in the longer term as behaviour change.

Equalities group:  A  key group of people who experiences discrimination and inequality most often.  It is vital to remember that there is diversity and difference within equalities groups – not everyone has the same experience and views.

Expert by experience: someone with lived experience of mental health can become an expert in their own condition. This involves an often lengthy period of recovery and self reflection and includes the development of techniques that assist them to self manage their condition and maintain a state of recovery. There may be common aspects to the techniques used by different people with lived experiences, but the exact combination of methods and practices used to sustain recovery is unique to each individual.


Human Rights: Everyone, everywhere, has basic rights and freedoms, based on our common humanity which we need in order to live together with dignity. These human rights are secured in law.

The law applies to everyone equally and provides an important means of protection for the most vulnerable in our communities, including older people receiving care and support, by setting out the duties owed by those responsible for upholding human rights.

Human rights include civil and political rights, such as:

  • The right to freedom of expression
  • The right to freedom of religion or conscience
  • The right to property
  • The right to freedom of assembly
  • The right to privacy
  • The right to vote.

Human rights also cover economic and social rights, such as:

  • The right to an adequate standard of living
  • The right to adequate food, housing, water and sanitation
  • The rights you have at work
  • The right to health
  • The right to education.

National governments accept duties under international law to respect, to protect and to fulfil human rights.

Human Rights Based Approach: Empowering people to know and claim their rights and increasing the ability and accountability of individuals and institutions who are responsible for respecting, protecting and fulfilling rights. This means giving people greater opportunities to participate in shaping the decisions that impact on their human rights. It also means increasing the ability of those with responsibility for fulfilling rights to recognise and know how to respect those rights, and make sure they can be held to account.


Indicator: How we know a change has happened


Keynote Listener: As opposed to keynote speakers who make presentations and talks, keynote listeners spend time interacting with participants at a meeting or conference, to hear their thoughts about a topic they have experience of or expertise in.  Keynote listeners report their findings and reflections offering their unique perspectives on the views voiced.


Lived Experience: A person who has experienced mental health problems. Lived experience: a person has lived experience of a mental health condition only if they have themselves lived with the symptoms of a mental illness. A carer or family member of someone with lived experience may acquire knowledge about the symptoms and effects of a mental health condition through their role, but cannot be said to have direct lived experience.


Movement for Change: See Me has created a movement which brings together people from all over Scotland and beyond who are determined to stop mental health stigma and discrimination in its tracks. It’s led by those with lived experience of discrimination and those who care about injustice and equal rights in society. Collective action can give a united and powerful voice to change negative behaviour towards those with mental health problems.

Mutuality: Offering people a range of incentives to engage with, enabling them to work in reciprocal relationships with professionals and with each other, where there are mutual responsibilities and expectations.


Non-violent Communication: A way of communicating that meets both parties’ needs and helps achieve a positive social change. It is centered around honestly expressing ourselves to others, and empathically hearing others. Both are expressed through four components - observations, feelings, needs, and requests.


Outcome: What changes will happen as a result of what you do.

Outputs: How much we do, where, with whom. These are often activities, final reports or presentations.


PANEL Principles: Underlying principles which are of fundamental importance in applying a human rights based approach in practice. These are:

  • participation

  • accountability

  • non-discrimination and equality

  • empowerment and

  • legality

Participation: To ensure that people have a say in decisions about their care and in the development of local health services. Participation refers to people being involving people in decisions about their own lives.

Participatory approach: A way of engaging in group and  learning activities (for meetings, trainings, events) that follows these guidelines:

  • sharing of knowledge and experience
  • recognising and encompassing different perspectives
  • working in teams on practical tasks
  • the use of visualisation and analytical tools, imagination and drama
  • an open-ended creative learning process
  • the development of shared understanding and jointly owned plans
  • the capacity for reflection and self-assessment

Prejudice is when people form an opinion before becoming aware of and understanding the relevant facts. Prejudice can also stir up emotional responses such as fear or anger towards the people who are being stigmatised. These judgmental preconceptions endorse negative stereotypes which can have a major impact on someone who experiences mental health problems.

Examples: 'You aren't ill with depression, you’re just lazy' , 'You must be violent if you have mental health problems'

Protest: aims to challenge and reduce stigmatising messages regarding mental health such as negative reporting in newspapers. This reactive strategy appears to be effective in reducing the frequency of negative messages and the act of participating in a protest activity may be empowering for individuals. However, protest may result in the negative messages being reinforced in the public’s mind if they are not replaced with more positive messages.


Recovery: Recovery is being able to live a meaningful and satisfying life, as defined by each person, in the presence or absence of mental health symptoms. It is about having control over and input into your own life. Each individual’s recovery, like his or her experience of the mental health problems or illness, is a unique and deeply personal process." (Scottish Recovery Network)

Resilience: The capacity of an organisation, community or individual to survive or even thrive in the face of unforeseen changes and challenges.  Sometimes used in place of ‘sustainability’, resilience looks for ways to manage in an imbalanced world, whereas ‘sustainability’ seeks to put the world back into balance.

Resources: The means what we have to work with. Examples include physical (buildings), financial, community and personal resources (support, self-esteem).


Self stigma: is a process whereby a person with a mental health problem is aware of public stereotypes of mental health problems or mental illnesses and in an implicit manner applies those stereotypes to himself/herself resulting in low self-esteem and a lack of hope. This can result in them withdrawing, feeling frustrated, angry, experience low self esteem and lack of confidence in their future. As a result many are at risk of defeating their own personal goals and ambitions.

Social Capital: The collective value of all social networks; the links and shared values in society that enable individuals and groups to work together. If members of the group come to expect that others will behave reliably and honestly, then they will come to trust one another. Where physical capital refers to physical objects and human capital refers to properties of individuals, social capital refers to connections among individuals.

Social enterprise: Organisations that operate to tackle social problems, improve communities or the environment. Social enterprises invest their profits back into their business or community.

Sustainable: A sustainable network or community is one that is economically, environmentally, and socially healthy and resilient. A sustainable approach takes a long-term perspective – one that’s focused on both the present and future, well beyond the next budget or election cycle. Its success depends upon its members’ commitment and involvement through:  

  • Active, organised, and informed citizenship.
  • Inspiring, effective, and responsive leadership.
  • Responsible, caring, and healthy community institutions, services, and businesses.


Theory of Change: A a tool for developing solutions to complex social problems. The expected change that will result from a set of actions. The Theory of Change  is essentially a comprehensive description and illustration of how and why a desired change is expected to happen in a particular context. It does this by first identifying the desired long-term goals and then works back from these to identify all the conditions (outcomes) that must be in place (and how these related to one another causally) for the goals to occur.