The Mental Health Foundation (MHF) has recently published a report calling for the British Government and UK media to review its approach to mental health illness.
The new report, “A Better Understanding, Psychiatry’s Social Contract” says that the media’s treatment of health related issues needs to be improved in order to combat the stigma currently associated with mental health.
It also draws upon the need for society to do more in supporting GP’s to provide a high standard of mental health care to those who need it. Additionally, the Government is being asked to prioritise factors that contribute to mental health illness, including unemployment, health care, family, support and community.
A large part of the report focuses upon the need for the media to draw upon “truth” and “balance” when it comes to publicising news stories concerning mental health. In particular, it refers to the recent mishandling of how the Germanwings airline disaster was reported on earlier this year. It argues for a shift in focus; a move away from stigma and negative stereotypes, towards one of compassion and empathy, in order to cultivate a more understanding society.
The report moves on to talk about how changing the way the media report on mental health issues can change public perception, breaking down barriers and lessening the “us and them” attitudes, which it argues, currently prevail throughout society. In turn, this will help encourage people to talk more openly about their problems and concerns, unifying society as opposed to making mental health a divisive issue.
How is this to be achieved?
The MHF is calling for a collaborative approach from mental health charities, psychiatry professionals and the media so they can work together in addressing the problem through education, information and most importantly a positive approach.
Do you or does someone you know suffer from a mental health condition, either now, or in the past? Do you agree with the recommendations as outlined in the MHF’s report? We would be interested to hear your opinions on this. You can get in touch by tweeting us, or sending us a message through Facebook.
If you are experiencing mental health problems and need to see a GP out of hours, you can call NHS 111 to arrange an appointment. For more information about GP’s and mental health advice, please visit our blog.