An Improvement in Reporting on Mental Health.

So, a little bit of positive news this time. Of late, it seems, there has been something of an improvement in the media's reporting on mental health. With an increasing number of celebrities being open about their mental health problems there has been a growing interest in mental health in the media, as well as what appears to be an increased understanding of such matters. People like cricketers Andrew Flintoff, Marcus Trescothik and Michael Yardy have all been open in the media about their experience of mental ill health, and the media's reporting of their problems has been, largely, sympathetic and understanding. Perhaps most significantly, ex-boxer Frank Bruno's recent relapse into mental ill health was greeted with a tellingly more sober response than when it was first reported, many years ago now, with the sensational and derogatory headline, "Bonkers Bruno Locked Up".
So perhaps it is that finally the impetus for celebrities to be open about their experiences has brought about some kind of tipping point, where everyone feels more comfortable about discussing the issue of mental health. Also, there has been the, it has to be said, modest media presence of the national anti-stigma campaign "Time to Change". Maybe this too has had some effect on how the media responds to mental ill health.
While this is all good news, there still appears to be issues around the reporting on more severe mental health conditions, like schizophrenia. The Scottish anti-stigma campaign "see me" reports that while there have been significant improvements in reporting on illnesses like depression, stress and anxiety, more "severe and enduring" conditions remain either misunderstood, or are reported on in a sensationalising and lazy way. "See me" explain that, according to research, 63% of people still associate mental ill health with violence, two thirds of those people quoting the media as the source of their beliefs.
All is not rosy in the garden of mental health and how it is portrayed in the media yet then. Indeed, the sort of hierarchy of mental illnesses, with depression at the bottom and schizophrenia at the top, seems to abound in most areas of mental health. One supposes that this can lead to stigmatising views of both ends of the spectrum, with many assuming that depression is perhaps not the severely debilitating illness it can be, and that schizophrenia is virtually impossible to recover from and is linked to violence. This hierarchy, then, does not appear to help matters.
But, one has to remain positive. There have been improvements, and I suppose we have to be thankful for at least that. Schizophrenia, though, remains an emotive and scary word for many. Just how we break through that barrier remains to be seen.    

Comments

Lost in Space said…
I do hope that the positive trend continues to improve. But I do believe that it will still be a long time before the psychotic disorders are more understood and accepted by society.

Personally I see no reason to compare depression and schizophrenia in terms of severity, because this is something that I think is dependent on the individual person and other circumstances such as how well they have responded to medication etc. But then I also have a view on this issue based on my own experience, that depression put me in hospital whereas my psychosis has responded quite well to meds.
Dixie said…
DEAR DAVID,
PLEASE EXCUSE THE CAPS, BUT THE LEFT HAND IS HAVING ISSUES COMMANDEERING THE SHIFT KEY.

MAYBE IT'S ME; I'M INCLINED TO BELIEVE PEOPLE DO NOT CARE TO UNDERSTAND, UNLESS, UNTIL, IT HITS THEIR OWN DOOR. I HAD TO FIND SOME WAY TO FORGIVE THEIR IGNORANCE. I HAD TO FIND MY OWN VOICE. I HAD TO STAND AND SAY: NO MATTER WHAT YOU THINK OF ME, I INTEND TO LIVE LIFE AS FULLY AND SUCCESSFULLY AS I CAN.

MY EXPERIENCES ARE SHARED WITH THOSE CAPABLE OF LISTENING WITHOUT JUDGEMENT. THEY ARE POSITIVE, SUPPORTIVE; ABLE TO COMPARE ISSUES THEY'VE FACED.

VIOLENCE BRINGS IN BIG MONEY FOR MEDIA SERVICES AROUND THE WORLD, AS DOES FEAR. ENTIRE COMMUNITIES, EVEN COUNTRIES, ARE THOUGHT TO BE EASIER CONTOLLED, THROUGH MANIPULATION OF FACTS, REGARDING HUMAN ISSUES. SO MENTAL HEALTH WOULD BE AMONG THE TOP CONTENDERS FOR INAPROPRIATE REPORTING BY OUR BELOVED ALPHABET MEDIA PROGRAMS!

STILL I EXERCISE HOPE THAT IMPROVEMENTS CONTINUE. MY MEDITATIONS INCLUDE THE NEED FOR UNDERSTANDING... AND IF NOT UNDERSTANDING, THEN CERTAINLY A FAIR MEASURE OF PATIENCE FOR THOSE SEEKING RECOVERY AND A SUCCESSFUL LIFE.

I ENJOYED YOUR POST; MUCH SUCCESS AND HAPPINESS TO YOU.

DIXIE
bazza said…
Hi David. Out of curiosity I just looked up 'Schizophrenia' at an etymology web-site and the word is 100 years old this year! Happy Birthday? When you think that it literally means 'split mind' one can see why it's conflated with images of multiple-personality disorders.
I wonder if a new more sensible name could be introduced that doesn't have the same baggage.
How about trying to create a new one, for example 'disruptive syndrome' or is that misleading?
Best regards, Bazza.
David said…
Dear Lost in Space,
Thanks for dropping by. I too hope that this positive trend continues, and I agree with your position as regards schizophrenia and depression. Although the hierarchy of severity exists, I think it is entirely possible for a depressive illness to be just as debilitating as a psychotic one, and your own experience would seem to bear this out.
I hope you're keeping well, and that you come by again soon.
Very Best Wishes,
David.
David said…
Dear Dixie,
I too am inclined to think that understanding of things like mental illness only happens if you have had some experience of it in some form yourself. All we can do is try to erode the stigma in whatever ways we can.
Thanks for your understanding and support, Dixie, and may your own recovery go from strength to strength. And thanks in particular for typing this after your accident. That shift key must have proved difficult to manage!
Very Best Wishes,
David.
David said…
Dear bazza,
I did write a blog about "schizophrenia" being 100 years old, and yes, it is easy to understand why there is such confusion over the term, given its meaning.
Many have called for it to be "renamed" because of the stigma and confusion which surround it, and the Campaign for the Abolition of the Scizophrenia Label have suggested other terms, like "post traumatic psychosis". Others have suggested "dopamine dysregulation disorder", or "integration disorder". Whatever it is, it seems that most terms have their own problems, but I'm inclined to think myself that it is time for a change. I'm not sure about "disruptive syndrome", though, bazza. Perhaps the term should actually in some way encapsulate the symptoms of the illness, rather than create misleading and stigmatising perceptions, which I think is what "schizophrenia" does.
Thanks for an interesting comment.
Very Best Wishes,
David.
klahanie said…
Dear David,
Humble apologies for not getting to your latest posting at an earlier time. Although, I have promoted your article through various social networking sites.
A bit of a mixed situation in regards to the stigma still surrounding mental health issues. Indeed, the awareness and the willingness to try to understand, has increased. Yet, we still have a ways to go and it seems that some folks have to come to the realisation that mental health concerns can happen to any of us.
Of course, with your own insight, we can hope that the stigma is diminished, even further.
In kindness, Gary
David said…
Dear Gary,
Thanks, as ever, for your comment and support. I think your own blog is also a great instrument in the fight against stigma, showing the funny, sensitive and insightful person behind the illness. I can only hope that my blog has some of the same effect.
Very Best Wishes, your way,
David.

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