The Fry, Flintoff, Bruno, and Pendleton Effect
Posted Monday 19 November 2012
Mind today releases new statistics showing one in five people who've experienced a mental health problem has sought help directly because they've been inspired by a celebrity speaking in the media about their own mental health.
Celebrities have been criticised for baring their souls through the press, but Mind’s research shows the vital role Stephen Fry, Frankie Sandford, Andrew Flintoff, Victoria Pendleton, Frank Bruno and others have played in increasing understanding of mental health problems, in turn reducing stigma. Over a third of the 2,100 polled felt their understanding of mental heath problems had improved directly as a result of hearing famous people share their experiences.
When The Saturdays singer Frankie Sandford spoke out about her depression in Glamour magazine, the Mind Infoline received calls from young women citing Frankie as their inspiration for seeking help for the first time. Mind’s research reflects this - showing a third of those who’d seen Frankie’s story were prompted to think about their own mental health. The same number felt inspired to make positive changes in their lives to boost mental wellbeing.
The research also shows:
- One in three has changed their opinion about the kind of people who can develop a mental health problem, directly because of coverage of successful people being diagnosed.
- The public aren't tired of celebrity headlines: 70% say it’s important celebrities speak in the media about their mental health. The same number state the media has an outright responsibility to cover these stories.
- Two thirds had greater respect for celebrities once they’d spoken publically about their experiences.
- One in five has been inspired by a celebrity story to start a conversation about mental health with a loved one, or colleague.
- One in 10 of all surveyed has been inspired to contact a mental health charity because they've heard a celebrity speak out.
- Mental health problems can be very isolating but almost half of those with personal experience said celebrities speaking out made them feel they were not alone.
- Stephen Fry’s experiences prompted one in three to talk about mental health with others.
- Andrew Flintoff speaking about depression caused 50% of all polled to better understand both what it means to have depression and how isolating this can be.
- Olympian Victoria Pendleton spoke about self-harming, prompting 30% to talk to others about the story. 70% respected Victoria more as a person, directly because she spoke out.
- One in three, having heard Frank Bruno’s experiences of bipolar disorder, wants to tell their loved ones to open up to them if they ever experience the same problems.
- A quarter has taken time to think about their own experiences directly because of hearing Stephen Fry’s experiences.
The findings come on the day of the Mind Media Awards 2012 sponsored by Friends Life, the annual ceremony celebrating the best reporting of mental health in the media. Taking place at the British Film Institute tonight, the ceremony will be hosted by Stephen Fry.
Tracey Pallet, who has personal experience of bipolar disorder said:
"I had a breakdown in my life and things weren’t looking too good, but it was during this period that I discovered Stephen Fry’s documentary The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive . Stephen laid bare his darkest times for us all to see and I remember watching vividly how he struggled through his diagnosis and tried his hardest to carry on with life. Watching him during these times made me realise that if he could carry on and be so successful in what he does, then so can I.
I want to say thank you to him, for encouraging me to carry on regardless."
Paul Farmer, CEO for Mind says:
"The media has incredible potential to shape attitudes, challenge discrimination and question prejudices. Mind’s research shows just how powerful this can be.
We know from those who call our Infoline or visit our local Minds that, in sharing their stories, celebrity ambassadors and Mind’s President, Stephen Fry, have helped others to feel it’s ok to speak out. We urge those in the public eye and those who work in the media, to recognise the positive role they can play in telling the true story of mental health, and in turn help others to get the support they need."