Ellen White, winner of last year's Mind Media Awards 'Blogger' category, shares her view on the 2015 shortlist.
Ellen is a 16 year old blogger, writer and mental health activist.
The Mind Media Awards are almost here! Wow. It seriously doesn't feel like a whole year has passed since I last attended. The Mind Media Awards are a yearly event hosted by Mind as a reward and celebration for those who responsibly and sensitively report on mental health issues in the media. This year the awards are going to be held on November 16th at The Troxy.
Last year I was extremely privileged to be shortlisted for the Mind Awards and then consequently going on to winning the blogger category, which was a phenomenally rewarding experience. This year there's a brand new shortlist, all of whom are extremely deserving nominees. Here's a few of my picks:
Laura runs a YouTube Channel promoting awareness surrounding many areas of mental health. Some of which include depression, anxiety, eating disorders, self harm and many more. She has created a huge network of support to those struggling and to those who are seeking to learn more about mental health in general. Through her own experiences, she provides advice and support to those struggling, whilst also documenting her own recovery. I have been a keen viewer for quite a number of years now and I have huge respect for the work she does, plus she's also from the North East so wooo!
Claire writes a hard hitting blog around her own experiences with a mental health problem. She covers many great and much needed areas surrounding public perception of mental health and what it feels like as a sufferer to be impacted with such stereotypes and stigma on a daily basis. I've had the privilege of being able to work alongside Claire on books such as Dear Stranger as I admire her passion for writing and raising awareness. She has diligently and passionately set up a number of campaigns and challenges to raise money for mental health charities and I have huge respect for her in doing that.
Throughout time, soaps have often included some sort of backstory surrounding mental health. They're based off reality, so it would be unrealistic to not feature someone suffering with a mental health problem! Coronation Street is no exception and in their recent story line with Steve McDonald, we see how his experiences with depression cause him to shut himself off from the world and struggle quite severely. I've been watching Coronation Street for a good 8+ years now and this has definitely been one of the most hard hitting story lines surrounding mental health of late. His symptoms weren't played down or pushed to one side and his recovery wasn't forced to be shown as a straight forward process, which is very accurate to real life. There's nothing worse than the media promoting an easy, simple recovery, when often that's really not the case. You will have bumps in the road and things will seem bleak at times, but that's okay, which is why I really loved the way this story line has been brought to the screen.
This programme in itself is very intense and such an important aspect of television, because A & E is often quite a misunderstood world. In one specific episode they specifically highlight the world of mental health and how A & E can be a crucial support for many. The honesty of those speaking on the programme was so brave and very much needed because the more we speak out about our own struggles, the more we can allow others to feel less alone and possibly even allowing them to take the crucial step in reaching out.
What I've noticed from the awards this year is that there's been a lot more openness on the subject of suicide, with Life after Suicide, BBC (Factual Television); A suicide in the family, Panorama, BBC 1 (Factual Television); Why is it so hard to talk about suicide?, BBC Somerset (Radio) and many more delving into the subject all appearing on the shortlist. I think this is so important, and really awesome that this topic is being openly discussed more and more in the media. It is an extremely sensitive subject, but it's still so vital that people are shown that it's okay to talk about it. It's okay to reach out for help if grieving, it's okay to talk about suicide.
Mental health in the media can often be a yo-yo process. For every influential, positive act at breaking down mental health stigma, there can be another equal force adding to it. Whilst this can be off-putting, charities such as Mind combat it, bringing together those making a difference to create a positive force against mental health stigma. Standing together and spreading the word about mental health awareness is powerful.
The Media is such a huge place and I agree that sometimes it feels like we're shouting into a void, but even that one voice will be heard by at least one person. You never know, that one person may have been waiting to hear that message and you might just change their life. Never underestimate your power to change the world. Whether that be with one post, one video, or one conversation at a time.
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Blogs and stories can show that people with mental health problems are cared about, understood and listened to. We can use it to challenge the status quo and change attitudes.