The importance of including help-seeking information in stories covering mental illness & suicide

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Issue: The media is an important source of information about mental illness, for both the general population and for people living with with a mental illness. When the media covers stories aout mental illness or suicide and does not include appropriate hep-seeking reosurces for readers, this is problematic.

The most common instance of media not including help-seeking details is when Australian publications syndicate and re-publish articles that have originated from international publications.  Although the story might be more relevant and of more interest to the audience in another country, if Austrtalian media choose to re-publish the story then they must ensure they include appropriate help-seeking resources for Australian audiences who may be impacted by what they have read or watched.

Result: StigmaWatch proactively contacts any news outlet that publishes stories covering mental illness and incidents of suicide, that do not include at least two Australian help-seeking information resources.

If the story is about a specific illness (for example, depression) or a specific population group (for example, young people) we will recommend that they include help-seeking details that are most relevant.

On most occasions, the StigmaWatch team receives positive responses from the media when requests to include help-seeking information are made, with journalists promptly adding this information to their content whenever they can.

Why it matters? While health promotion is not the media’s primary role, to help ensure stories about mental illness and suicide do not impact negatively on people who are vulnerable, it is important that help-seeking information is added.

If you or someone you know needs support, you can contact:

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467

Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800

Mensline: 1300 789 978

Last updated: 6 June 2019

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