The media in Australia play an important role in shaping public attitudes about many important issues including suicide, mental ill-heath and alcohol and other drugs (AOD) use.
AOD issues are recognised widely as a major public health concern, directly affecting millions of Australians each year. This is a critical opportunity for the media to inform and change public perception around AOD use, and encourage help-seeking for those with AOD issues.
What is AOD?
AOD strictly refers to the use of any form of alcohol or other drugs. When considering media coverage of AOD, this specifically refers to any form of coverage ranging from fictional to non-fictional portrayals of individuals or groups either using or being affected by some form of alcohol and other drugs in all forms of media.
This includes depictions or portrayals communicated via print, online television and social media, as well as any general references of AOD in terms of wider reporting.
Why focus on the coverage of AOD in the media?
Public attitudes towards AOD use can have a significant impact on the course and trajectory of AOD use disorders, including help-seeking behaviour.
Since 2002, Mindframe has provided comprehensive national guidance, training and education on the responsible, accurate and sensitive portrayals of mental illness and suicide through mass communications.
The Mindframe project team has applied the same evidence-based principles and methodologies to a new project - Mindframe for Alcohol and Other Drugs, funded by the Australian Governments’ Department of Health, managed by Everymind.
Through a set of new AOD guidelines, which are under development, Mindframe aim to positively influence the quality of reporting on AOD issues in the media.
This is part of a strategic effort to improve community attitudes towards people living with AOD issues and consequently increase help-seeking behaviour by people with problematic AOD use.