With one in five Australians diagnosed with mental illness every year, mental illness and suicide-related issues are important topics, which demand fair and accurate reporting.
Why StigmaWatch monitors
StigmaWatch aims to reduce the number of sensationalising or stigmatising reports published in the Australian media. The message is not 'do not report on suicide', rather StigmaWatch encourages the media to do so considering the impact certain facts and language may have on audience members.
People with a mental illness have been labelled as ‘scary’ ‘comical’ or ‘incompetent’. Such stigmatising labels cause enormous pain and suffering for people living with mental illness. These stereotypes are another stress people don’t need, and many say the stigma can be worse to deal with than the symptoms of the illness itself.
Acting on reports received from the public, StigmaWatch provides media professionals with feedback, positive and negative, to encourage more responsible reporting on these issues.
It’s more than political correctness
As Project Manager of the Mindframe National Media Initiative, Jaelea Skehan, told ABC's LinguaFranca the issue is more than political correctness, it’s about reducing stigmatising language, which can reinforce discrimination.
StigmaWatch encourages journalists to report on mental illness and suicide-related issues in a responsible manner. Reviewing the resources and guidelines developed by Mindframe and the Press Council can add to your understanding of the issues and help in the production of responsible reports on these sensitive issues.
StigmaWatch is managed by the SANE Media Centre and is part of the Australian Government’s Mindframe National Media Initiative. The initiative is a comprehensive strategy that aims to influence media representation of issues related to mental illness and suicide, encouraging responsible, accurate and sensitive portrayals.
The SANE Media Centre promotes responsible reporting of mental illness and suicide-related issues through ongoing engagement with the Australian media. The Media Centre also provides professional communications support to the mental health sector.