to be paid by government to talk to journalists
by Angela Hussain
users are to be paid by the government to be interviewed by journalists
working on mental health stories.
scheme is a bid to promote more positive coverage of mental health
issues, particularly stories relating to schizophrenia, manic depression
and personality disorder.
The government is to fund the setting up of a “speakers bureau”
to train and pay people with mental health problems to be spokespeople
on mental health issues.
The bureau will be run as part of the National Institute for Mental
Health’s five-year anti stigma and discrimination programme,
The scheme was included in a government report which stated that
media reporting can reinforce prejudices against people with severe
mental health problems.
The report had found people with a mental health problem were quoted
in only six per cent of media stories
The report found that common mental health diagnoses - like depression
and anxiety - are reported positively. However, media coverage of
severe mental illness remains stigmatising, said the report, entitled
Mind Over Matter: Media Reporting of Mental Health.
The report stated the media tended
to focus on incidents of violence linked to people with a severe
mental health problem, so feeding public fears of people with such
The report was based on an analysis
of print and broadcast media stories, and was carried out on behalf
of the government by three mental health charities, the Sainsbury
Centre for Mental Health, Mental Health Media and Rethink.
Launching the report last week,
mental health minister Rosie Winterton, said: “Journalists
can be in the vanguard of change, driving a cultural shift in attitudes
about mental health throughout society. But they can't do this alone.
"We all need to work to make
change happen - the government, mental health charities and the
media. We in the government are trying to do our part: we are working
with young people in schools, with public services like the NHS
and with employers to reduce discrimination against people with
mental health problems."
Raza Griffiths, 34, a mental health
campaigner with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, said: “Coping
with a mental health problem is difficult enough, but dealing with
stigma makes it ten times harder.”
National Institute For Mental Health's Mind Over Matter: Media Reporting
of Mental Health report
25, 2004: Want to reduce mental health stigma? Then let me film
inside psychiatric wards - urges BBC Scotland's health correspondent
21, 2004: Mental health charity banned from unveiling statue of
Winston Churchill in a straitjacket - protest against mental
health stigma was bad taste, Rethink organisation told.
19, 2004: People diagnosed with mental illness to be protected from
discrimination at work
28, 2004: Government launches scheme to tackle mental health stigma
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