SANE StigmaWatch reflects and acts on community concern about media stories, advertisements and other representations, which stigmatise people with mental illness or inadvertently promote self-harm or suicide.
An important positive focus of StigmaWatch is to provide feedback to the media following accurate and responsible portrayals of mental illness and suicide.
There are hundreds of StigmaWatchers throughout Australia – people with a mental illness, family, friends, health workers and others who care about how mental illness and suicide are represented in the Australian media – who forward their reports to StigmaWatch for follow-up.
Reports submitted are evaluated against the Mindframe National Media Initiative’s Reporting Suicide and Mental Illness guidelines and the StigmaWatch criteria. If a story is found to be stigmatising, inaccurate or irresponsible, StigmaWatch will contact the journalist or media outlet and discuss the concerns raised. The journalists or media outlet is encouraged to revise or withdraw the article and advised how they can ensure against stigmatising mental illness and suicide-related issues in the future.
'The media play a powerful role in shaping attitudes towards people with mental illness. That's why I'm delighted to be a patron of SANE's StigmaWatch.' Andrew Denton
StigmaWatch also reflects community praise by nominating Good News Stories which illustrate accurate and responsible reporting of mental illness and suicide.
SANE StigmaWatch does not aim to stop media reports on sensitive issues such as mental illness and suicide, rather, StigmaWatch encourages more accurate and responsible reporting.
Want to know more about stigma? Click on What is stigma?
‘I was diagnosed with schizophrenia a decade ago and in my search to understand my new illness, the media offered me a skewed vantage point where it appeared schizophrenia was simply a licence for bad behaviour. Now, on the inside looking out, I recognise what an inaccurate portrayal this is, the exception rather than the rule.'
Read Kylie's Snapshots story.
‘As a carer, I get hurt when I see remarks that label people who are mentally ill with names such as "fruitcake", "nutter" or "psycho." Don't they realise that this is my son they are talking about? As if it's not bad enough for someone to have a mental illness, to be punished for it by being the victim of stigmatising comments is like kicking a man when he's down.'
SANE StigmaWatch is a program of the SANE Media Centre, which is supported by the Australian Government’s Mindframe National Media Initiative. StigmaWatch works in partnership with other Mindframe projects coordinated by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health.