An article recently published by Fairfax media with the headline “Surge in mental health patient escapes” highlights once again the challenge that we face in countering the tendency of the mainstream media to use negative stereotypes of people with mental health problems to promote their publications. The focus on one of the rare incidents involving violence and the unnecessary mention of “taypayer recompense” is likely only to further reduce readers empathy towards people with mental health issues and build support for the use of overly restrictive conditions. It is disappointing to see journalists constructing stories which, despite some attempts at balance, contribute more to hysteria and negative reactions that to educating the public. At a bare minimum information about mental health support services should have been included in the article, particularly given that self harm was involved and world suicide prevention day is tomorrow. The absence of this information in the article represents a lost opportunity to make a positive difference.
Changing Minds goes Smoke-free!
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