Suicide and mental ill-heath are important social issues that need to be communicated in ways that are safe and accurate. Yet the challenges lie in addressing these issues, as there is a lack of accurate information around mental ill-health and suicide in the community.
Communications professionals, such as journalists and public relations practitioners, have a role to play in developing responsible practices to reduce stigma and in being mindful of the link between communicating specific information around suicide and the potential for copycat behaviour.
Mindframe training is offered to future communicators, aiming to enhance the skills and knowledge of journalism and public relations students so they are prepared to respond appropriately when communicating about mental ill-health and suicide in professional contexts.
In sessions that can be adapted to suit class themes and times, Mindframe training introduces students to the professional and ethical issues they may encounter in their future work and provides educators and students with the knowledge and skills to communicate safely and sensitively on mental illness and suicide.
Mindframe training also offers practical guidelines for safe and sensitive communication that encourage students to communicate in ways that will help to:
- Reduce the stigma and discrimination experienced by people with mental ill-health
- Minimise harm and copycat behaviour
- Increase help-seeking behaviour
- Improve mental health and wellbeing.
In this way, Mindframe training offers emerging practitioners tools and knowledge to make their own informed decisions about how they can communicate responsibly in their professional practice.
After recent training in Western Australia, students reflected that the session had increased their understanding of mental illness and suicide and increased their confidence in their ability to communicate accurately and responsibly.
Students also reflected that the tools and knowledge offering by Mindframe were useful to them as emerging professionals.
Realising that words can carry incredible weight, and depending on who is reading, the words can carry different meanings.
To supplement training, educators have access to an online suite that provides free teaching and learning resources for use within universities and colleges across Australia. This includes:
- Contextual information specific to journalism and public relations
- Case studies
- Media examples
- Lecture slides and notes
- Topical questions to lead safe discussions.
The training curriculum and associated resources were developed with the assistance of media professionals, public relations practitioners, academic, suicide prevention and mental health experts as well as consumer organisations.
Knowing what to avoid and how to substitute the information, e.g. not releasing method, etc.
In addition to these materials, Mindframe offers ongoing support through its recently updated website, where journalism and public relations students and educators can find quick reference cards and tips for looking after your own mental health and wellbeing while studying or once in the workforce.
It is increasingly recognised, within Australia and internationally, that reporting on suicide and mental illness can have a profound effect on journalists.
For this reason, Mindframe is a strong advocate for adopting self-care activities that safeguard health and wellbeing, incorporating self-care discussion into training offered at universities.