LATEST NEWS


wmhd17

As a journalist-turned PR, I love the English language and often question the origins of some of the phrases we use every day. ‘Flash in pan’, ‘kick the bucket’ and ‘eat humble pie’ all being classic examples of the magnificence and wonder of the English language. 

Having reported news and in general speech, I’m ‘guilty’ of having used the term ‘committing suicide’ without giving a second thought to where it originates from. Suicide hasn’t been a criminal act since 1961.

It was only when talking to friend and contact of the agency, former government mental health champion and leading campaigner Natasha Devon MBE, that the implications of the phrase and how it could potentially shape attitudes came to mind. The words we use matter.

On World Mental Health Day, Natasha Devon is teaming up with charities to create a seven-point mental health charter for newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, bloggers and YouTubers and writing to every editor in the country, encouraging them to sign up. It is a campaign that Myriad PR is proud to be supporting.

The charter isn’t about shaming press or preventing freedom of speech, but rather listing dos and don’ts for the media when discussing or depicting mental health stories.

 

It’s not the first time in recent weeks we have thought about mindfulness and good mental health. Last week, our client 3M organised an event with actress, author and mental health campaigner Ruby Wax, who spoke about her book, Frazzled.

Ruby believes it must be recognised that mental health should be something we can talk openly about and that we shouldn’t feel the need to ‘keep up with the next guy’. She believes that more needs to be done to make people feel less afraid of admitting they are stressed, that they need to take a five-minute break from their desks, or that they are in fact suffering from a mental illness.

 

Compiled in association with the Samaritans, Mental Health First Aid England and Beat, Natasha’s campaign has so far been endorsed by Girlguiding, The Coalition for Men & Boys and the Labour Campaign for Mental Health. It includes suggestions such replacing the term ‘committed suicide’, which suggests that the act is a crime, with ‘ended their own life’. 

The first editors to sign were ‘pioneers’ Natasha Pearlman at Grazia Magazine and Ann Mroz of the Times Educational Supplement, closely followed by several regional titles. 

The charter’s recommendations are based on evidence collated by charities determining what might induce ‘imitational’ behaviours in vulnerable people, set back recovery or cause distress to people who have experienced mental illness and their families. 

The initiative has been praised by Norman Lamb MP, former minister for Care and Support, who said:  “I applaud this really valuable initiative and offer my full support. The truth is that the words we use matter.”

We will be following the progress of the campaign on social media #MHMediaCharter.. Learn about the campaign and sign up here: 

https://www.natashadevon.com/campaigning-and-awards