The Headline Mental Health Media Awards 2019 saw media professionals across every platform, mental health advocates and people with lived experience of mental ill health come together in Dublin, to celebrate the work of media who bring to light challenging stories of mental ill health.
Attendees from every media platform came together with mental health organisations, advocates and people with lived experience of mental ill health. An emotional award ceremony, led by Síle Seoige, saw powerful contributions from those who share their story and those who give them a platform.
Johnny O’Hanlon, Director of Local Ireland and MHMA2019 Judge, told those gathered that judging the entries was incredibly challenging in itself. He said the quality of content from each of those shortlisted and those who just missed out on the shortlist was extraordinarily high. He congratulated everyone in the room for the remarkable work they were doing and thanked his fellow judges for their contribution.
Often journalists and producers don’t realise the role they may have played in a person’s mental health recovery. A surprise interlude included the perspective of those who have been most affected by mental health media – the readers, listeners and viewers of mental health media. See Change Ambassadors shared the positive effect hearing others’ stories of mental health difficulties has on them. Sandra, one of the ambassadors, opened with saying “it is because of the change in attitude that I am here tonight. I couldn’t have spoken about this 10 years ago.” Sandra shared how she felt isolated and afraid because of her postnatal depression. “That’s changing due to the media in this country.” Adrian spoke about coming across an article on Alan Quinlan being open about his mental health. He said, “My own bias about having to man up and take things on the chin was terminally damaged.” Journalists and producers in the room were left with no doubt that their work has impact.
Ray, another See Change Ambassador, suggested that people in the room might wonder “if anyone reads the newspaper anymore.” He shared how one story in a health supplement impacted him. “It’s not common enough yet that people read real people’s stories. So I ask you in the media to continue the great work that you’re doing and please keep mental health to the fore of your work, because at the end of the day, you are saving lives. And that’s good work.”
This year’s Mental Health Content – Online Award went to A Lust for Life for their podcast, ‘Where There’s a Will’. This in-depth piece of work was described by the judges as “hugely ambitious and rich in insights”.
Emma Connolly of The Southern Star won the Local Print and Online Award for her report, ‘What is happening to our young people?’ which focuses on the mental health of the young people of West Cork.
The winner of the Current Affairs Programming Award was Liveline with Katie Hannon for RTÉ Radio 1. The episode in contention focused on societal attitudes to suicide with often differing and challenging opinions, expertly handled by Hannon and the Liveline team.
The Headline Special Recognition Award recognises that impactful conversations about mental health are not just coming from media professionals, but also those outside the industry who are also contributing in a valuable and positive way. For speaking out on isolation among minority communities and the importance of representation, the winner of this award was Blessing Dada for her piece, ‘Why I advocate for mental health among minorities’ featured on SpunOut.ie.
Described by the judges as “a most compelling read”, the winner of the Mental Health Content – Special Interest category was Paul Fennessey’s piece, ‘A one-time world champion Irish prodigy’s descent into hell and back’ for The42.ie featuring Irish racewalking prodigy Kate Veale.
For broadcasting, in the One-Off Documentary category, the winner was Edvinas Maciulevicius and Liam McGrath for their RTÉ documentary My Other Life: Ireland’s Young and Their Mental Health. The judges called it “a compelling documentary capturing powerful first-person stories”.
The winner of the Headline Student Journalist Award was Jesse Melia, for his production Hand in Hand, which tells the story of one person who lives with both mental health and addiction issues, and details Ireland’s wider problem with dual diagnosis treatment.
The National Print or Online Journalism Award was won by June Shannon for her article in the Irish Times, ‘Pregnancy is when mental health can be most at risk’. In this piece, June highlights the heart-breaking reality of suicide in pregnancy.
The Voice Media Award category was developed and judged in collaboration with See Change – The National Stigma Reduction Partnership. It recognises the coverage that a broadcaster or publication has given to those with self-experience of a mental health difficulty. The joint winners of this category, TheJournal.ie and Newstalk for Lunchtime Live have both demonstrated excellence in reportage and inclusion of those living with mental ill health.
The Headline Impact Award, which recognises the impact a content creator, commissioning editor, individual producer or programme has made on audiences’ mental health recovery, went to Blindboy Boatclub for reaching diverse audiences, engaging difficult demographics and producing accessible quality content with The Blindboy Podcast.
Meet the Judges
Education Editor, The Irish Times
Carl has been involved in judging Headline awards for almost a decade. For many years he was the social affairs correspondent with The Irish Times covering stories about mental health and social exclusion. He is currently education editor and writes regularly about how mental issues affect younger people.
Writer & Ambassador
Nicola first started to experience Psychosis from a young age but only received a diagnosis of schizophrenia in 2011, at the age of 22. She has written extensively about her experience and was featured in IFTA-nominated documentary Schizophrenia: Voices in My Head. Nicola works with See Change as an Ambassador and Headline on their Expert Advisory Panel.
Director, Local Ireland
Johnny has been involved the local newspaper sector for 4 decades. He was formerly the managing editor of the Cavan based Anglo-Celt newspaper from 1980 – 2008 and is currently the director of Local Ireland, the representative association for 46 local weekly paid for newspapers of record in the Republic of Ireland.
Communications & Policy Manager, Samaritans Ireland
Sarah joined Samaritans in 2017 after more than 15 years working in journalism & PR. She started her career in regional newspapers in the UK before joining the Press Association’s Dublin bureau covering a variety of national and international news stories. She also worked at the Irish Independent and a Dublin PR agency before joining mental health charity Samaritans, where she leads public awareness and media campaigns.
Journalist, Researcher & Producer
Aoife’s work has taken her to some of the most fascinating and hostile parts of the world. She has worked in news, current affairs and on numerous human rights stories for over two decades. Her recent work on RTÉ documentary Schizophrenia: Voices in My Head earned her an IFTA nomination and was the first time Irish audiences saw young Irish people speak openly about daily life with schizophrenia.
Communications Manager, National Office for Suicide Prevention
Ciaran has worked in the NGO sector, with different national organisations – providing services in the areas of depression support, suicide postvention and most recently, suicide/self-harm prevention. His professional interest in these areas stems from his own personal experience, of losing his youngest brother, aged 22, to suicide in 2006. His role in NOSP focuses on Goal 1 of Ireland’s National Strategy to Reduce Suicide, 2015-2020, “to improve the nations understanding of, and attitudes to suicidal behaviour, mental health and wellbeing”.
Also involved in the judging process for the Voice Media Award, Impact Award and Special Recognition Award were Barbara Brennan and Shauna O’Connor from See Change, Susan McFeely, Patricia McKeever and Karolyn Ward from Shine and Áine O’Meara, Sinéad Keating and Elaine Haskins from Headline. Thanks also to the team at TheJournal.ie who judged the student category.