New research from the charity Mind shows that media coverage of mental health problems improves understanding and promotes help seeking, as the charity launches Mind Media Awards 2017.
News reports, documentaries, celebrity interviews, soap and drama storylines about mental health have a huge impact on encouraging people to talk, show new findings released by Mind today. More than a third (35%) of people who have seen a storyline involving a character with mental health problems say it inspired them to start a conversation about mental health, and half (50%) of all respondents say that it changed their opinion about the kind of people that can develop a mental health problem.
The charity’s research comes as the Mind Media Awards 2017 open for entries today (Wednesday 26 April). The awards, which have been running for over 20 years, celebrate the best reporting and portrayals of mental health in print, broadcast, film and digital media, and invite journalists, YouTubers, broadcasters, film-makers and production teams to submit work in the hope of winning one of the prestigious awards for their efforts.
Mind’s poll reveals that sensitive reporting of mental health stories in the news can also play an important role in supporting people with mental health problems. One in four (24%) people say that seeing or reading news reports about mental health help them feel less alone, and one in five (20%) say that it has actually prompted them to contact a friend or colleague with a mental health problem.
Celebrities speaking out about their mental health experiences was also shown to be impactful with a quarter of respondents (24%) saying that hearing accounts from people in the public eye helped them to feel less alone and one in five (21%) had started a conversation about mental health inspired by celebrity stories in the news.
Interestingly, younger people were much more likely to say they felt encouraged to seek help or support for their mental health as a result of reading about mental health stories in the news. A quarter (24%) of 18-24 year olds say they had felt encouraged to seek help after having read a story similar to theirs in the media, compared to just 7% of those aged 65 and over.
Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, said:
“These statistics show just how powerful all forms of media can be in inspiring people to start a conversation about mental health and encouraging them to seek help. We have seen an enormous amount of mental health media coverage in recent months thanks to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry’s Heads Together campaign and the first ever mental health marathon. We are so grateful to the media for getting behind the campaign and helping to raise vital awareness.
“Following Prince Harry’s candid interview with The Daily Telegraph Mad World podcast we saw a 38% increase in calls to our Mind infoline. This was surpassed on Monday (24 April), the day after the London Marathon broadcast on the BBC and covered extensively in the press, when we witnessed a 58% increase, our busiest day ever with a record number of calls. Media reporting can really be a lifeline.
“It has been amazing that the media coverage of the London Marathon has given a platform to so many people to speak out about their own experiences. We urge journalists and programme-makers to continue this welcome trend of reporting on mental health, and are looking forward to receiving strong entries to this year’s Mind Media Awards.”
Professor Green, winner of the Making a Difference award 2016, said:
“I think the most important thing is that we raise awareness and after awareness will come understanding. I don’t think we can remove the stigma overnight but it has been a year where I have definitely noticed a rise in how prominent it is in the media in whatever shape or form, be it music or TV or documentary. For as long as that conversation stays open things are moving in the right direction.”
Last year the Mind Media Awards received hundreds of entries from across UK media. The list of winners on the night had a particularly strong showing from programmes encouraging people to talk more about mental health, with all the winners going above and beyond to share and explore mental health stories. Loose Women collected the award for the Entertainment category for their moving and eye-opening campaign which encouraged people to share their experiences of mental health problems. Singer and Mind ambassador Frankie Bridge presented the Making A Difference award to Stephen Manderson, better known as Professor Green, rewarding his dedication to campaigning about men’s mental health through his documentaries, music, autobiography and media work.
The judging panel for the Mind Media Awards is made up of a panel of media industry experts, many of whom have personal experience of mental health problems or have previously been honoured for their work at the awards.
Winners will be announced at a celebratory event in central London on Monday 13 November 2017 which will bring together celebrities, media industry professionals and people who have shared their personal experiences through the media.
To be eligible for the Mind Media Awards, programmes or articles must have been broadcast or published in the UK, or have been available online between 18 June 2016 and 17 June 2017 (inclusive).
The closing date for entries is midnight Friday 30 June 2017.