Time to Change works with the media to improve the way mental health issues are reported. In order to get an up to date picture of our supporters’ views, we carried out a survey asking them about the types of media stories they feel are the most damaging and the impact they have on public attitudes, behaviour and people’s lives.
Over 600 people responded. We’ll be using the findings to shape how we respond to stigmatising media coverage in the future - in our public statements and in face to face meetings with journalists. Below are some key findings from the research.
When asked about which types of reporting methods our supporters find offensive or unacceptable
• 92% said content which criticises or mocks an individual for being open about their mental health problem
• 86% said referencing a person’s mental health problem when it’s not directly relevant, in order to sensationalise or create a heightened sense of danger
• 85% said trivialising mental health problems with misleading language e.g. Happy Pills, ‘bit OCD’
• 75% said publishing stigmatising content as ‘quotes’ from family, witnesses etc.
A clear message we received from our supporters was that stigmatising media coverage negatively affects the way that people think and behave towards those of us living with a mental health problem. The survey findings also highlighted how stigmatising media coverage can exacerbate mental health problems and make people feel less able to speak out and seek support.
• 93% said it creates confusion and misunderstanding around mental health problems
• 90% said it negatively impacts people’s attitudes towards those of us with mental health problems
• 85% said it negatively impacts the way people behave towards those of us with mental health problems
• 83% said it makes those of us affected less likely to speak out and seek support
• 77% said it negatively impacts the mental health of those of us affected
• 63% said negative media reporting had affected them personally
• 46% said they felt motivated to complain or boycott the media outlet if reporting suggested people living with a mental health problem are dangerous
For more on how to challenge or complain about stigmatising content in products and in the media, click here.