mental health, Opinion Piece, Stigma

The Day Today

(Originally published 10 Oct 2013)

Happy World Mental Health Day everyone!  A little late I know, but it's the thought that counts.  It's been a tough day for me, so apologies if this post is a little more 'rambling' than usual...what do you mean "no difference there then".

I could tell it was World Mental Health Day when the first newspaper headline I saw so beautifully, eloquently captured the sentiment of this auspicious day.... "Killer Spider Ate My Leg".  Granted it was only the Daily Star, but it struck me that we need this day more now than ever.  Who in their right mind would (a) write that and (b) buy it!.  If you did, stop reading this now!

It's been quite a fruitful few weeks for the mainstream media and mental health issues.  What started with ASDA, Tesco et al and their 'mental health patient' fancy dress costumes quickly moved onto the Sun and this incendiary headline.

I would have thought the one outing Tamara Ecclestone as a cannibal would have been more controversial but no!  As fantastic a job that the likes of Time To Change, Mind, Rethink and any number of other organisations are doing in trying to raise awareness of mental health and put an end to the stigma that naturally accompanies it, that message isn't getting through certain parts of the media.  It's certainly not reaching the News Editor's desk.  If the often quoted statistic that 1 in 4 people suffer with mental illness is right, then at least 25% of the people who work at News International, Tesco and ASDA are directly affected by these kind of stories.  Are we to believe that not one, NOT A SINGLE ONE of them spoke up, sent an email, raised a concern, had a quiet word with their manager?  Maybe they did.  I'm not naive to enough to think that the whole organisation has to be consulted before these headlines are 'signed off' but as you go up the corporate ladder, higher and higher, there's still a quarter of the workforce available to activate the alarm.

Maybe there's a hidden agenda we don't know of, maybe selectively and misleadingly quoting a University of Manchester study relating to the previous 10 year period is their idea of fun, maybe the reality just isn't newsworthy enough, maybe they enjoy the controversy because, let's face it, there's always another one just up ahead.  Maybe it's just lazy journalism but then, if they were that lazy, they could just write about killer spiders!

PS - A petition has already been organised by change.org. Full information is available here:

https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/thesunnewspaper-correct-the-sensationalism-in-your-mental-illness-story-and-donate-the-profits-from-it?alert_id=mzMJlZWDfy_VgmjmseJvl&utm_campaign=36699&utm_medium=email&utm_source=action_alert