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Mental illness is not a weakness

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Issue: The panel on a popular current affairs program were discussing one guests lived experience with postpartum depression which led to one of the panellists stating this mental illness is a weakness. The StigmaWatcher said told us they “find it really frustrating and disappointing when the media give misleading information that impacts on the good work done to reduce stigma.”

Result: StigmaWatch contacted the television network and provided them with evidence-based reporting guidelines to refer to in order to responsibly cover similar topics in the future.

Why it mattered? It is important not to make assumptions about a person’s capabilities just because they have shared their diagnosis with you. In fact, opening up about their lived experience is the exact opposite of weakness – for many, this takes a great deal of courage.

James, one of SANE’s peer ambassadors, says he originally saw his diagnosis as a weakness. However, he eventually accepted that he had a chronic illness and that “no amount of willpower alone can overcome it”.

The media and community can work together to shift the focus of media stories to highlight what people can achieve.