Headline has selected the Cork Independent as winner of the Headline Regional Newspaper of the Year Award 2011 for journalism relating to mental health or suicide prevention.
Headline created the award in recognition of the vital role played by regional newspapers in promoting positive mental health in their local communities.Kahlil Thompson Coyle of Headline said “The Cork Independent’s dedicated and consistently responsible coverage of suicide and mental health issues will not only contribute to greater public understanding, but also encourage those experiencing difficulties to reach out and seek the help that they need.”
Receiving the award, Deirdre O’Shaughnessy, Editor of the Cork Independent said, “Mental health is a massive issue in Cork as it is in Ireland generally, and our role as a local newspaper is to write about the issues that matter to Cork people. It is great to know that the message is getting across and I hope that what we are doing is making a difference.”
“Mental health problems affect so many people, but are still stigmatised to a great degree, and our work with John McCarthy and Mad Pride has sought to remove the stigma and to highlight ongoing flaws in the mental health services and mental health policy.
Media analysis conducted by Headline confirmed that a significant number of regional publications show a genuine commitment to responsible coverage of mental health issues. The Clare Champion was also shortlisted for the award for informative and positive feature writing on a wide range of issues related to mental health, with a strong focus on providing expert advice and giving voice to people with self-experience of mental health problems.
Headline’s media analysis also highlighted how regional media coverage of mental health issues varies greatly between regions. Regional coverage of mental health issues was strongest in quality and volume in Munster, followed by Leinster. However, the concentration of positive media coverage in Leinster lay outside of the Dublin area. Unfortunately, a small portion of regional publications still neglect to provide coverage of mental health issues to their readership.
Pictured above: Headline’s Kahlil Thompson-Coyle presenting the Headline Regional Newspaper of the Year 2011 Award to Cork Independent Editor Deirdre O’Shaughnessy.(Photo: Billy macGill)
Award Criteria
Coverage must adhere to the various media guidelines for reporting on suicide and mental health issues. Media guidelines available here;
In shortlisting local publications, Headline considers the volume and quality of articles relevant to suicide and mental health issues as well as the type of coverage afforded to mental health. The volume of news articles, the dedication of feature writing, editorials and opinions pieces to mental health issues can denote a genuine interest and acknowledgement of the importance of these issues.
Positive coverage of suicide and mental health issues in local media should:
•    Be informative, accurate and encourage public understanding;
•    Promote positive mental health;
•    Encourage people who may be experiencing difficulties to seek the help that they need;
•    Provide information on sources of support at local and national level;
•    Prompt discussion of mental health issues;
•    Challenge the stigma that surrounds mental health problems;
•    Ensure accuracy by providing expert advice or feature someone with self-experience of a mental health problem.