To determine how users of mental health services would like to be
addressed by professionals, a survey of 302 persons participating in a
variety of inpatient and outpatient psychiatric programs was conducted.
Forty-five percent of the sample preferred the term "client," 20 percent
preferred the term "patient," 8 percent preferred the term "consumer," and
27 percent either expressed no clear preference for one term or provided
another term. The results suggest that no one term is favored by users of
mental health services. Professionals and persons receiving mental health
services are encouraged to talk over individual preferences to help
establish a working alliance.