The media are doing some great work to shine the spotlight on mental health, encourage people to talk about the issue and recognise how it affects people’s lives. Equally, it’s something many businesses are paying more attention to. However, there are times when media outlets and companies get it wrong, and this is where we need your help.
Only by working together will we really start to see fewer insensitive media articles and stigmatising retail products. There is a growing movement of people that now feel able to stand up and tackle stigma and discrimination whenever they see it, and it’s resulting in positive action on the ground.
We’ve already seen leading retailers change or even remove products because people have taken them to task. For example, Time to Change campaigners in Leeds met with local company The Great Escape Game to get their latest themed activity called ‘The Asylum’ withdrawn. Individuals speaking out, or joining together to speak out, can often make the biggest difference in getting companies and the media to be more responsible.
The central Time to Change team will sometimes take action directly if we’re made aware of a specific issue but often the impact can be more powerful when the whole social movement gets involved. There are simple things you can do as an individual to campaign to improve the way companies and the media portray mental health issues:
- Let companies and media outlets know how their business affects you. If you’re concerned that a company’s products or services are promoting outdated and harmful stereotypes of mental health problems then contact them direct about this. Hearing from current or potential customers about how they are personally affected can be really powerful. Similarly, if you see a media article with sensationalist headlines about mental health problems then you can write a letter to the editor explaining why you found their coverage unhelpful. You can usually find their contact details on their websites.
- Use social media to highlight issues. Companies and media outlets now rely heavily on social media to manage their customer services so if you think that they’re behaving in a stigmatising and discriminatory way then posting your concerns on channels like Facebook and Twitter can be a quick and effective way to get a response from them. You can also encourage other Time to Change supporters to share your posts and get behind your efforts to raise awareness of a particular issue.
- 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. Print media, including their online editions, are regulated by IPSO (Independent Press Standards Organisation). Broadcasters (TV, radio, websites, apps and video on demand) are regulated by Ofcom although the BBC also has its own editorial guidelines. Advertisers are regulated by the Advertising Standards Authority.