Mental health still a taboo in the media, new research shows
Posted Monday 28 November 2011
The media is failing to give mental health the attention it needs, according to the results of a survey released by mental health charity Mind.
Nearly half (45%) of the people questioned by Mind couldn't remember seeing any stories or reports about mental health in any media over the past twelve months, with only a third recalling a newspaper report, a quarter seeing a documentary broadcast, and just 22% seeing mental health issues addressed in dramas or soaps.
Thirty one per cent of people were unable to name a character or TV personality with a mental health problem, while this figure rose to 44% for respondents aged 18-24. Of those who could name someone, Stephen Fry, Mind's President, was most commonly identified.
The research also reveals that newspaper reporting is lagging behind television in the manner it covers the issues. While 89% of respondents considered TV documentaries to realistically represent mental health problems, only 59% said the same about newspaper coverage.
Similarly, fewer than half those questioned felt that newspapers were sympathetic in their treatment of mental health problems, compared to 73% for documentaries and 66% for TV News.
The findings come on the day of the Mind Media Awards, the annual ceremony that celebrates the best reporting on and portrayals of mental health issues in the media.
Taking place at the British Film Institute tonight, the ceremony is hosted by Rebecca Front, star of The Thick of it and Grandma's House. Earlier this year, Rebecca created a Twitter storm when she talked about her experience of mental health problems and started the trending hashtag #whatstigma.
This year's shortlist features a diverse range of work including X Factor judge Tulisa's BBC 3 documentary, a prison radio interview with Stephen Fry, a Radio 5 Live special about the suicide of footballer Robert Enke and BBC medical dramas Casualty and Holby City.
Mind Chief Executive Paul Farmer said:
It is disappointing that mental health problems are still largely hidden from view in the media.
This is an issue that is part of the fabric of everyday life, with one in four people experiencing a mental health problem every year, but it is clear that this is simply not being reflected across the different forms of media. It is especially concerning that young people are even less exposed to these vital issues.
The incredible work on the shortlist for the Mind Media Awards demonstrates that high quality coverage that gives a true picture of mental health problems is possible.
We want to work with all sections of the media to create more examples of this, so that people with mental health problems are fairly represented across the board.
Rebecca Front said:
The media is hugely influential in shaping people's opinions of mental health, for both good and ill.
It's vital that we celebrate the good work that is done to challenge the stigma that sadly still exists around mental health, and I am delighted to be hosting the Mind Media Awards 2011 to do exactly this.
Notes to editors
- The Mind Media Awards will be held at the British Film Institute on Monday 28 November 2011. More information can be found at www.mindmediaawards.org.uk
- Mind is the leading mental health charity in England and Wales. We work to create a better life for everyone with experience of mental distress.
- Please note that Mind is not an acronym and should be set in title case.
- The Mind Media Awards are sponsored by Axa, Comic Relief, Euro RSCG and the Samaritans. We are also pleased to present this year's New Media award in memory of Mark Hanson. Mark was a public relations strategist who specialised in advising clients on new media. However, privately he battled with depression and anxiety, and died in March 2011.
- For more information about this event please contact the Mind Media Team on T: 020 8522 1743 M: 07850 788514 E: email@example.com ISDN line available: 020 8221 0817.