Mindframe’s focus and focus for today – not about rules and regulation, but identifying opportunities for using social media/ media coverage while navigating the risks in suicide prevention (& mental health context).
designed to assist people involved in mental health to effectively communicate with the media about suicide, mental health and mental illness. Mindframe aims to build the capacity of the mental health and suicide prevention sectors to promote sensitive and appropriate reporting by ensuring that they have: Appropriate, sector-consistent guidance on providing information on suicide, mental health and mental illness to media professionals; An understanding of the potential impact of media reporting of mental illness and suicide, based on research evidence; An understanding of the different sectors of the media; Strategies to maximise opportunities to represent mental illness and suicide appropriately in the media; Strategies to respond to positive and negative reporting of suicide, mental health and mental illness. Access to relevant reference material including: - Key issues to consider when talking to the media about suicide or mental illness; - Facts and statistics about mental illness and suicide; - Contact details for sources of research and statistics; - Contact details for helplines and services.
AIM: To improve media portrayals of suicide and mental illness.
SECTORS: Collaborative approach with media professionals and media organisations, journalism and public relations educators, the mental health and suicide prevention sectors, police, courts, and stage and screen.
THE APPROACH: Evidence-based and sector appropriate print and online resources Professional development and sector engagement Changes to policies, procedures and codes of practice National Leadership.
Highlight he importance of national collaboration and working in partnership, something that is demonstrated by the way the Mindframe Initiative works across sectors and involves members of the media, film and television, the mental health and suicide prevention sectors, and university academics in planning and delivery of the program.
New resources Mindframe launched updated resources for media professionals when reporting suicide and mental illness on Tuesday, 1st April 2014. To support the launch, Mindframe initiated a hashtag campaign using #MindframeMedia. The revised resources include a new media book, quick reference cards, guide for journalism self-care (developed in partnership with the DART Centre for Journalism and Trauma), and updated website.
welcome the launch of the new media resources, noting the importance of continuing to review and refine our national work to ensure it is current and meeting current national priorities. Highlight the need for those working in mental health and suicide prevention sector to ensure that messages we send to the community are evidence-informed, are hopeful and encourage action. It is important that Mindframe brings together the Communication Managers of health, mental health, suicide prevention and consumer-led organisations to not only guide Mindframe activities but reflect on how we can work better together.
the new Mindframe media resources, which will continue to support media professionals in practical ways when reporting suicide and mental illness.
Note the importance of national and state initiatives, organisations and programs working together and partnering with the media to get messages to individuals, families and communities. Mindframe is an initiative that works at a local and national level through partnerships with the mental health sector and the media.
Importance of remembering that the general community, including people with a lived experience of mental illness and suicide, are the recipients of messages we put out through media. Therefore, having practical supports for media and our own sector is important.
The NSW-based Hunter Institute of Mental Health (whom the Commission works together with on Conversations Matter) has been working on leading/managing Mindframe for more than 12 years. Conversations Matter, which supports community discussion about suicide, is a complement to the work Mindframe has been doing with the media.
The media is an important source of information about mental illness, for both the general population and for people with a mental illness themselves (e.g. linking mental illness and violence or using language which purports mental illness to be a ‘life sentence’) Journalists are often time poor and may have low mental health literacy If reports about mental illness are inaccurate, unbalanced or sensationalist it can reinforce common myths and impact significantly on people experiencing mental illness, making them less likely to seek help for their illness.
Research has indicated that for many people the media is their primary source of information about mental illness (Lopez, 1991; Granello, 1999; 2000). (I’ve never been down a mine but I have an idea what it’s like)
According to national and international research, mental illness tends to be portrayed negatively in the mass media (Frances et al, 2001). THIS HAS IMPROVED CONSIDERABLY over last 1o years Australian and international research has indicated that media depictions of mental illness are negative, often reflect and perpetuate myths and misunderstandings and often portray people with mental illness as a threat to the community (Hyler et al., 1997, Allan & Nairn, 1997).The evidence also suggests that such reporting may influence community attitudes, possibly contributing to negative stereotypes, stigma and discrimination. Research has indicated that people citing the media as their most important source of information about mental illness had more negative attitudes toward mental illness (Granello, 1999).Media accounts of mental illness that instill fear have a greater influence on public opinion than direct contact with people who have mental illness (Rosen et al., 1997). It is important to minimise negative portrayals of mental illness, as the presentation of positive images does not appear to balance negative media portrayals. A number of studies demonstrated that exposure to negative stories had a direct effect on attitudes which was not altered by subsequent exposure to positive stories.
Collaboration with the media provides organisations and their spokespeople with the opportunity to support responsible reporting. Aim to Reduce stigma increase community awareness promote help-seeking Reduce harm to vulnerable audience – contagion
Need MHSP consistent with mindframe education for media to help us get the message across and change culture more quickly
Principles remain the same
Accuracy - ensure references to a specific mental illness, are accurate and in context. Language - avoid negative language, diminishing language, and using medical terminology out of context. Stereotypes - be mindful of stereotypes such as those which link mental illness and violence or suggest people are unable to work, parent or lead fulfilling lives. Consumer and carer - talking publicly can be a difficult and distressing experience. It is important to have access to appropriate support throughout the experience. Incl. when making the decision whether to participate or not. Australian research shows that mental illness is reported frequently and generally covered responsibly by the media. There are a range of helpful ways to present or explore the issue: Covering mental illness sensitively and accurately can change public misconceptions, challenge myths and encourage community discussion about the issue; Sharing stories of people who live with a mental illness can be powerful and have been shown to reduce stigma; Emphasising the importance of help-seeking behaviour can lead to people connecting with support and treatment; Exploring the impact that mental illness can have on family and friends can increase community understanding; Consider stories that focus on accurate information about specific illnesses, policy implications, debates about mental health care delivery and broader discussions about community social and emotional wellbeing.
Research has shown that the way suicide is reported is important: while some styles of reporting have been linked to increased rates of suicide, appropriate reporting may be helpful. There are times when journalists will report suicide because it is considered to be ‘in the public interest’, that is, the public need to know about it. While the media generally take a responsible approach to reporting suicide, examples of inappropriate reporting can still be seen. - People who are feeling suicidal may become affected by media reports of suicide, particularly where they identify with the person in the report or where suicide is sensationalised or shown as a way to solve problems. Speakers can encourage accurate and responsible reporting by making sure that information they provide to journalists is in line with Mindframe recommendations outlined below – minimise prominence (headline, front page) and repeated stories
Evidence base – over 100 international studies Evidence of the significant impact of media coverage on suicide continues to mount. The occurrence of imitative suicides following media stories is largely known as the “Werther effect,” derived from the impression that Goethe’s novel The Sorrows of Young Werther in 1774 triggered an increase in suicides, leading to its ban in many European states. Contagion - Internationally contagion effect thought to result in 2-4% of suicide deaths “Suicide contagion can be viewed within the larger context of behavioral contagion, which has been described as a situation in which the same behavior spreads quickly and spontaneously through a group (Gould, 1990). Social learning theory is another paradigm through which suicide contagion may be understood. According to this theory, most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling (Bandura, 1977). Suicide clusters relative risk of suicide following exposure to another individual’s suicide was 2 to 4 times higher among 15- to 19-year-olds than among other age groups. Suicide clusters thought to occur by contagion and social influence Tendency for one individuals suicidal behaviour to influence all others in the cluster. All others in the cluster have vulnerable identities, ie depression, hopelessness etc triggered off by an environmental stressor Media communication one way vs two way
Risk of copycat Risk of Be mindful not to sensationalise the issue with statistics Need to ‘alert’ not ‘alarm’ the community. “Youth suicide epidemic” Use your promotional opportunities to dispel common myths e.g. “People who attempt suicide are attention seekers.” 3 risk of normalising suicide, presenting as solution to problems Limit use of the word ‘suicide’ where possible. 4 risk of vulnerable people identifying with person and imitating act 5 risk of presenting suicide as desirable, presenting as solution to problems Use language which does not glamorise, normalise or sensationalise suicide:
Research has shown that the way suicide is reported is important: while some styles of reporting have been linked to increased rates of suicide, appropriate reporting may be helpful. There are times when journalists will report suicide because it is considered to be ‘in the public interest’, that is, the public need to know about it. While the media generally take a responsible approach to reporting suicide, examples of inappropriate reporting can still be seen. - People who are feeling suicidal may become affected by media reports of suicide, particularly where they identify with the person in the report or where suicide is sensationalised or shown as a way to solve problems. - Speakers can encourage accurate and responsible reporting by making sure that information they provide to journalists is in line with Mindframe recommendations outlined below – minimise prominence (headline, front page) and repeated stories - Check your language does not glamorise suicide or present it as normal or an option for dealing with problems; - Communicate the need to avoid description of the method and location of suicide; -Never include detailed descriptions of the method or location of a suicide death or suicide attempt as detailed descriptions of a suicide death can prompt some vulnerable people to harm themselves in a similar way; It is best to talk about method and location in a general way only (if required). For example ‘I took a mixture of medications’ or ‘he went to a local park’. Exercise caution when providing access to people who have been bereaved by suicide;
Be mindful not to sensationalise the issue with statistics Need to ‘alert’ not ‘alarm’ the community. “Youth suicide epidemic” Use your promotional opportunities to dispel common myths e.g. “People who attempt suicide are attention seekers.”
Things to remember when talking to the media about suicide: Consider the potential impact of the story and whether you should be involved; Provide expert comment or advice where possible; Provide the media with helpline contacts and information about crisis support services, treatment and support options A guide for media about the correct help-seeking information for inclusion in news stories is available here. Communicate the need to avoid description of the method and location of suicide; Check your language does not glamorise suicide or present it as normal or an option for dealing with problems; Help the journalist with context about suicide by providing general information about suicide and its relationship to mental illness and other risk factors; Exercise caution when providing access to people who have been bereaved by suicide; Promote the Mindframe for media professionals resources and website (www.mindframe/for-media) to journalists.
Media have an important role in reporting about the broader issue of suicide including an analysis of policy, practice, research, rates and trends, and other areas of public interest; Covering suicide sensitively and accurately can challenge public misconceptions and myths, increase community awareness and encourage discussion and prevention activities; It’s helpful for reporting to inform the community about causes of suicide, warning signs, the importance of taking suicidal thoughts seriously and providing information about where people can get support; Reporting that focusses on suicide as a health and community issue (never as a crime) helps to increase community awareness and decrease stigma; Use appropriate language Certain ways of talking about suicide can alienate members of the community, sensationalise the issue or inadvertently contribute to suicide being presented as glamorous or an option for dealing with problems. People who are vulnerable to suicide, or bereaved by suicide, can be particularly impacted by language. It is important to use language that is in line with suggestions for the media - The most effective stories look at social and emotional wellbeing, increase understanding of risk factors and warning signs and promote ways people can find support for a number of problems. Place the story in context Help the journalist with context about suicide by providing general information about suicide and its relationship to mental illness and other risk factors; Avoid simplistic explanations that suggest suicide might be the result of a single factor or event. Highlight the difficulty of the issue; it may have many layers and a number of risk factors and warning signs. You may want to refer to some of the facts and statistics provided in the ‘Further Information’ section of this document. Reports that show the impact that suicide has on individuals and communities can increase understanding about the experiences of those affected by suicide. - Stories that focus on personal stories about overcoming suicidal thinking can promote hope and may encourage others to seek help;
The Mindframe resources will soon include tips for reporting on people bereaved by suicide and updated recommendations for reporting on issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as well as individuals who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender or Intersex. A new Mindframe app - started developing an app for Australian journalists. The app will complement the Mindframe website and online/hardcopy resources and work across all platforms (i.e. iPhone and Android) to ensure optimum usability and access for journalists anywhere, anytime.
Updated resources for the mental health and suicide prevention sectors.
Mindframe media resources nspc14
Moving with the times:
guidelines for media reporting
of suicide and mental illness
Mindframe National Media Initiative
The Mindframe National Media Initiative
collaborates with the Australian media and
other sectors to encourage responsible,
accurate and sensitive portrayal of mental
illness and suicide.
With the aim of:
• Promoting suicide prevention and
mental health promotion
• Reducing risk to audiences
• Decreasing stigma and discrimination
associated with mental illness.
• New media book
• Quick reference cards
• Guide for journalism
• Updated website.
Reporting inaccurate or negative
information about mental illness:
• Promotes stigma
• Perpetuates negative and inaccurate
beliefs about mental illness
Positive reporting does not appear to
balance negative media portrayals
Stories about mental illness can
inform and reduce stigma by:
• Providing accurate information
• Using appropriate language
• Avoiding negative stereotypes
• Promoting help-seeking
• Providing support to spokespeople
with lived experience.
• Reporting about suicide deaths has
been associated with increased rates
of suicide and suicide attempts using
the same method or location and
increased rates of suicide overall.
• People vulnerable to suicide may be
drawn to stories about suicide and
negatively impacted by these.
Risk generally increases when
• Details method and location
• Sensationalises suicide
• Is prominent and repeated
• Focuses on an individual who
has died (especially celebrities)
• Glamourises or glorifies the
The media has a role to play in raising
awareness of suicide as a public health
issue and prevention behaviour
To decrease risk it may be helpful to:
• Provide context
• Frame suicide as a tragic, avoidable loss
• Focus on the negative impact on others
• Explore stories of overcoming suicidal
• Promote help-seeking information
The Mindframe resources will soon include
• Tips for reporting on people bereaved by
• Updated recommendations for reporting
on issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander peoples as well as
individuals who identify as Lesbian, Gay,
Bisexual, Transgender or Intersex.
• A new Mindframe app
• Updated resources for the mental health
and suicide prevention sectors.