Severe Mental Health Conditions, Trauma and Media Participation: A Practice Guide for Media Professionals was co-produced by media professionals and mental health advocates to support journalists who want to address the current imbalance and misrepresentation of particular mental health experiences. The guide – the first of its kind globally – and the research that informed it, were created in partnership with Quality Matters.
Our research found that just 2% of stories related to severe and enduring mental health conditions actually included the perspective of or a contribution from someone with that lived experience. While there is ample representation of those who experience depression or anxiety, this is not the case for those who have experiences such as visual or auditory hallucinations, psychosis and severe paranoia. This is despite the fact that people living with such conditions often want to share their stories in the hope of educating the public and encouraging others with similar experiences to seek help. As one contributor with lived experience explained, “It’s rewarding and a privilege to have a chance to help others understand what it’s like to be me”.
With collaboration from media professionals, people with lived experience and mental health professionals the research looks at the reasons for this under-representation and explores the challenges associated with engaging people living with severe and enduring mental health conditions as media participants. The resulting practice guide offers media professionals a series of practical tips and steps to follow to safely, respectfully and successfully tackle this deficit and tell people’s stories.