How to report on mental health
Media reporting can have a huge influence on public attitudes towards mental health.
When dealing with a topic already entrenched with stigma and misunderstanding, fair and accurate journalism is essential.
The Press Complaints Commission code of practice states that:
- The press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual's race, colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability.
- Details of an individual's race, colour, religion, sexual orientation, physical or mental illness or disability must be avoided unless genuinely relevant to the story.
Time to Change, an anti-stigma campaign run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, produces guidance on how to cover mental health sensitively and responsibly. There are two guides:
- reporting mental health in the news and
- reporting on on mental health-related storylines in soaps and dramas.
How to report on suicide
The way that suicide is reported can have a direct impact on the incidence of 'copy cat suicides', so it's essential to take care when reporting individual cases. The Samaritans produce a media guide on reporting suicide.
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