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The media is failing to give mental health the attention it needs, according to the results of a survey released by mental health charity Mind

Nearly half (45%) of the people questioned by Mind couldn't remember seeing any stories or reports about mental health in any media over the past twelve months, with only a third recalling a newspaper report, a quarter seeing a documentary broadcast, and just 22% seeing mental health issues addressed in dramas or soaps.

Thirty one per cent of people were unable to name a character or TV personality with a mental health problem, while this figure rose to 44% for respondents aged 18-24. Of those who could name someone, Stephen Fry, Mind's President, was most commonly identified.

The research also reveals that newspaper reporting is lagging behind television in the manner it covers the issues. While 89% of respondents considered TV documentaries to realistically represent mental health problems, only 59% said the same about newspaper coverage.

Similarly, fewer than half those questioned felt that newspapers were sympathetic in their treatment of mental health problems, compared to 73% for documentaries and 66% for TV News.

The findings come on the day of the Mind Media Awards, the annual ceremony that celebrates the best reporting on and portrayals of mental health issues in the media.

Taking place at the British Film Institute tonight, the ceremony is hosted by Rebecca Front, star of The Thick of it and Grandma's House. Earlier this year, Rebecca created a Twitter storm when she talked about her experience of mental health problems and started the trending hashtag #whatstigma.

This year's shortlist features a diverse range of work including X Factor judge Tulisa's BBC 3 documentary, a prison radio interview with Stephen Fry, a Radio 5 Live special about the suicide of footballer Robert Enke and BBC medical dramas Casualty and Holby City.

Mind Chief Executive Paul Farmer said:

It is disappointing that mental health problems are still largely hidden from view in the media.

This is an issue that is part of the fabric of everyday life, with one in four people experiencing a mental health problem every year, but it is clear that this is simply not being reflected across the different forms of media. It is especially concerning that young people are even less exposed to these vital issues.

The incredible work on the shortlist for the Mind Media Awards demonstrates that high quality coverage that gives a true picture of mental health problems is possible.

We want to work with all sections of the media to create more examples of this, so that people with mental health problems are fairly represented across the board.

Rebecca Front said:

The media is hugely influential in shaping people's opinions of mental health, for both good and ill.

It's vital that we celebrate the good work that is done to challenge the stigma that sadly still exists around mental health, and I am delighted to be hosting the Mind Media Awards 2011 to do exactly this.


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Written by Scott Buckler   
Monday, 28 November 2011 12:24
Last Updated on Monday, 28 November 2011 12:26


0 #1 .Medical SecretaryMarlene Jones,
My son suffers from schizophrenia. As a mother i have witnessed heartbreaking moments,even sucide attempts. There is definitely not enough support and awareness regarding mental health. I have had cancer and have typed on all sorts of cancers in people, but to have control of your mind and actions has to be up there as the most precious thing anyone can have. Before you judge anyone stop and think, could that person have mental health issues. Its an illness imposed upon people,not a chosen way of life. Marlene

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