“I’m proud I was involved in the late-night flood of Twitter outrage over Asda’s ‘mental patient’ costume, but also afterwards, challenging some of the stigma-fuelled views appearing because Asda’s bad taste was challenged. I hope it makes them step back and think a little more about the bigger picture or even just about the staff they WILL have that suffer from a mental health problem.” – Sarah
Step by step guide: 

Media outlets and businesses can portray mental health in negative and damaging ways, and you can help to challenge this. By working together and joining our voices to challenge stigmatising content, we can start to see fewer insensitive media articles and retail products. 

1. Contact businesses and organisations directly.

If see a company promoting outdated and harmful stereotypes of mental health problems in their products, then get in touch them directly. Hearing from current or potential customers about how they are personally affected can have a powerful impact. Similarly, if you see a sensationalist, damaging article in the media about mental health problems, then you can write to the editor explaining why you found their coverage unhelpful. You can usually find their contact details on their websites.

2. Explain why it’s damaging – and how they can change

 When writing to a company or editor, consider including:
Why the product or article is harmful. You could mention statistics, such as the fact that while 1 in 4 of us experience a mental health problem every year, half say that the associated isolation and shame is worse than the condition itself.
How it has made you feel
How it’s affected the way you see the brand or newspaper
What you would like them to do. Do you think they should publish an apology, or remove the item from sale? Try to be clear about how they can improve.


3. Speak out on social media.

Organisations now rely heavily on social media to manage their customer services. If you think that a products or service promotes mental health stigma, then posting your concerns on channels like Twitter can be an effective way to get a fast response from the business. You can also get other involved in awareness of a particular issue online – our voices are stronger together!

4. Complain to the regulators.

The media is governed by codes of conduct, so if you think a newspaper, magazine, broadcaster or advertiser has breached these rules then you can make a complaint to their regulators. Visit our media hub for details about regulators to contact, and to find out more about how to tackle inappropriate media content and products.

I've done this ❯

Well done! We're one step closer to ending the shame and isolation felt by people with mental health problems.

Next, inspire others to do the same by sharing what you've done on our change makers wall or find your next action.

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Why is this important?: 
Media portrayals and reporting of mental illness are incredibly powerful in educating and influencing the public. However, insensitive journalism, programmes and products can overplay the risk of violence, promote fear and stop people from gaining an accurate understanding of mental health problems.