A new addition to the suite of Mindframe evidence-informed media guidelines was launched today, highlighting how to safely communicate on severe mental illness in the context of violence and crime.
The Mindframe guidelines on media reporting of severe mental illness in the context of violence and crime aim to encourage best practice media standards including safe and responsible reporting, in order to reduce stigma and encourage help-seeking.
According to Everymind Acting Program Manager, Sara Bartlett, the way media talk about mental illness in the context of violence and crime is incredibly important as it has the capacity to shape public attitudes and views.
“Portrayals of mental illness, particularly severe, medically diagnosed mental illnesses in the context of violence and crime are unfortunately often reported far more frequently than the actual rate at which incidents occur,” Ms Bartlett said.
“These portrayals can also give a false impression that mental illness causes violent behaviour, which reinforces myths, consequently influence stigmatising attitudes and public fear in the community.
“It is worth remembering that complex mental illness is rarely the cause of violence and according to research 96% of violent crimes are committed by people who do not have a mental illness.
“Media can play a vital role in breaking down stigma, myths, misconceptions and negative attitudes associated with mental illness in the context of violence and crime.
“By considering the context of your story, the impact and language used in addition to the selection of supportive content such as videos and images, the media can positively influence public beliefs, especially if their stories focus on being ‘stigma challenging’.”
The Mindframe guidelines on media reporting of severe mental illness in the context of violence and crime are the fourth in a suite of media guidelines developed by the federally funded Mindframe initiative. These include Reporting suicide and mental Ill-health: A Mindframe resource for media professionals, Mental illness and suicide: A Mindframe resource for stage and screen and Mindframe for Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD).
Each resource is informed by research and expertise from a panel of media and mental health professionals as well as consumer advocates; and seeks to empower the topics of suicide, mental ill-health, alcohol and other drugs, and mental illness in the context of violence and crime to be communicated safely and responsibly.
The guidelines on media reporting of severe mental illness in the context of violence and crime forms part of a PhD project, supported by graduate research scholarships from National Health and Medical Research Council (MHMRC)and Australian Rotary Health to Anna Ross (Centre for Mental Health, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne).
Mindframe is an initiative of Everymind and is supported by funding from the Australian Government under the National Suicide Prevention and Leadership Program.
To view and learn more about the Mindframe guidelines on media reporting of severe mental illness in the context of violence and crime, please visit: https://bit.ly/3hpHFsC