Every year, one out of four people on the planet will be trapped by a mental disorder. This is ¼ of the world's population and a significant part of your audience. It is worth doing it the right way! Well-cut news can be an amazing weapon. Well-delivered journalistic news can change attitudes, help to properly accentuate the essence of the problem, challenge the status quo, and scatter the myths about mental illness.
Responsible coverage of news can open up new opportunities for sharing, seeking and receiving professional help from people with mental disorders, presenting truthfully and competently about problems your audience knows little about. The journalism of sensationalism and the exaggerated risk of violence lead to fear and distrust, deepens the gap in understanding and accepting the true mental health problems.
The whole society feels uncomfortable when talking about mental illness. It is a good idea for the media to be the initiators of a systematic and open discussion on the topic-taboo.
Useful tips on event coverage:
Several things that would be good to consider when reporting an event involving a person suspected of having a mental disorder:
Do not speculate on mental health if you are not completely sure that the hero of your story has a mental illness.
- Do not get diagnosed from the media and do not encourage any convinced "expert" to confirm it.
- Think about whether it is good to be the leader in the news or to be in the headline.
- Be precise in selecting your sources. Make sure you can rely on the information provided by witnesses and neighbors - whether these are facts or just assumptions about the mental state of the person involved in your story.
- Include specific information. facts. Remember, people with mental disorders are much more likely to be victims than perpetrators of cruel crimes.
- The statistics show that every fourth mentally ill person annually becomes the victim of physical and verbal abuse or financial / property crime.
If you are preparing psychiatric material, try to include the position of someone experiencing mental disorder. Personal history will make the article more valuable and trustworthy.
When interviewing a person with a mental disorder, consider some helpful tips:
- Make sure your story is really ready to be invented.
- Consider where to conduct the interview. If you meet in a lively and noisy place, it is likely that your interlocutor is tense and does not completely share his story.
- Preface the character of your narrative to the questions you will ask. This will help him organize his thoughts and share his experience with you as accurately as possible.
- When writing the interview material, use exactly the words of your interlocutor - this will encompass the persuasiveness and truth of the story.
- Share and discuss with the interviewed edits you have made before broadcasting / publishing the material.
Do not forget that your strength is your strength You are the power that can improve understanding and change attitudes to mental disorders:
- Give accurate information about mental health problems
- Encourage people with mental health problems to seek help
- Presenting your story from the point of view of the patient and his or her relatives, you will help break the myths of mental illness, encourage the search for specialized help, and contribute to reducing the stigma and discrimination of these people.
"Remember, every one of us can get sick of a mental illness - no one is insured. Mentally ill are not "THE OTHER". Tomorrow, this can happen to our buddy, friend, family member..
- Be especially careful when reporting the suicidal news of a popular person. This can prevent "copying" suicidal behavior and save lives.
- Disconnect the "obligatory" relationship "mental illness - violence" by avoiding the overburdened, richly colored emotions of findings and conclusions.
Checklist for good journalistic practice:
- Do not reinforce stereotypes, especially in titles
- If there is violence in the case that you reflect, place it in the context. Remember, aggression exerted by violence caused by people with mental disorders is not common
- Do not step up the suggestion that all people with schizophrenia are cruel and aggressive
- Avoid stigmatizing words like crazy, psycho, schizo, etc. To label someone according to their illness is not a good idea
- Try to reflect in your story the opinion of people with similar problems
- Reflect psychiatric diagnoses carefully and with verified facts
- Include professional comments from specialists when needed