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Mental Health Awareness Week 2015

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Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental Health Awareness Week (11-17 May) is now in its 15th year.  Introduced by the Mental Health Foundation as a means of generating debate around how issues such as anxiety, sleep deprivation and exercise can impact our mental wellbeing, this year sees a focus on mindfulness.

Mental illness will affect one in four of us in any one year.  It costs the country around £100 billion each year through lost working days, benefits and treating preventable illnesses.

As jag works with a number of clients in the mental health sector, we always welcome any activity or initiative that communicates the benefits of good mental health.  Despite the previous coalition government’s move to end the imbalance between mental and physical healthcare services, the challenge of ending the stigma surrounding mental health problems is enormous.

Mental health in the media

The recent “shameful” and “awful” headlines that accompanied the reporting of the Germanwings plane crash highlighted the difficulties the media have in being ‘mindful’ of their role in dispelling myths about mental illness.  Inflammatory language and insinuating links between depression and mass murder led mental health charities to release a statement encouraging the media to report responsibly.

Almost one third of national newspaper coverage about mental health focuses on danger to others or strange behaviour.  Sensationalist reporting, in particular, and overplaying the risk of violence can promote fear and mistrust, as well as widening the gap of understanding about mental health issues.

In contrast, responsible reporting can provide a platform to people with experience of mental illness and can offer an audience insight into issues they may know little about.  Well written stories plant the idea that it’s not shameful to ask for help.  They can raise awareness, challenge attitudes and play a role in destigmatising mental health issues.

Mindfulness for mental health

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Mental health: let’s talk

Mindfulness may have become big business, but if the theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week can prompt some positive coverage in the media then the journey to good mental health will have begun.

And we know that many of our clients will be pleased about that.

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