Mary O'Hara crowned Mind's Journalist of the Year 2008
Posted Thursday 15 May 2008
Leading mental health charity Mind today announced the winner of this year's Journalist of the Year Award as Mary O'Hara, Social Affairs Correspondent for The Guardian. The award was presented by Mind's President Lord Melvyn Bragg, at the annual Mind Awards ceremony in London yesterday.
The prestigious prize is awarded for excellence in reporting on mental health issues in the media. This year saw particularly strong, original and creative contributions from journalists in the national and local press.
Mary was nominated for a wealth of articles that she has written over the last twelve months that the judges felt explored mental health issues in a very powerful and different way.
On receiving the award Mary said: "I am pleased and proud to have won this award. Mental health issues really matter to me as I grew up in West Belfast surrounded by all kinds of distress. It means so much to have my work recognised by Mind and I'll treasure this award. It's so important for journalists to write about mental health and to keep writing about these issues."
The judges include last year's joint winners Derek Draper (Psychologies magazine) and Dr Cecilia d'Felice (Independent on Sunday), 2006 winner Health Service Journal Features Editor Emma Dent and Mind's Chief Executive Paul Farmer.
Derek Draper said: "All those shortlisted, and many more who aren't, do an incredible job in the patchwork of campaigning that is starting to move mental health out of the ghetto and into people's consciousness."
Mind's Head of Media Relations Claire Ashby said: "High quality, informed reporting on these issues goes a long way to increase public understanding about mental health. People with mental health problems consistently tell us that negative media coverage only adds to the challenges they face. We hope that this award paves the way to breaking down any remaining taboos around mental health reporting."
The Essex Chronicle Specialist Writer Anne Fitzgerald was highly commended by the judges for her 'Peace of Mind' campaign, which judges thought was: "an inspiring project, drawing together key mental health issues combined with sensitive reporting. She makes the issues personal, accessible and informative."
Student Journalist of the Year Award
Huw Davies of the University of Cardiff newspaper, Gair Rhydd, collected Mind's Student Journalist of the Year Award. Huw's article on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder was imaginatively written from first-hand experience. Judges felt he explored the forms and effects of compulsive behaviour with a down-to-earth take on living with obsessive compulsive disorder.
The Student Journalist of the Year Award is now in its second year. It recognises and encourages high-quality mental health writing in student media. Highly recommended for the award was Olivia Gagan for a piece in the University of Exeter newspaper Exepos� on how deaths by suicide can be influenced the media.
Awards were also presented for Mind Champion of the Year - which went to Dr Liz Miller for continuing work in the field of mental health, including founding a self-help group for doctors and Mind Book of the Year - which went to Sunday Express Editor Martin Townsend for his book 'The father I had' about life growing up with a father diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
The Mind Awards are part of Mind Week, which this year focuses on debt and mental distress. Mind's new report In the red: debt and mental health out this week shows that debt is a significant factor in worsening our mental health and people living with mental health problems are almost�three times more likely to be in debt.