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Mind Your Language: How To Talk About Mental Health In The Media

Day one of Mental Health Awareness Week 2024 is a timely reminder for us all to take a look at the way we talk about – and responsibly report on – mental health issues. And, as a team of PR professionals working exclusively in the healthcare space (developing and implementing campaigns that focus on both physical and emotional wellbeing initiatives) we believe it’s vital that we regularly refresh, refine and challenge the ways we communicate key messages and narratives around mental health – across myriad media platforms. With better understanding, more open conversations and the gradual reduction in the stigma surrounding mental health, it feels there should be no reason or ‘excuses’ for clumsy language (or an accidental reinforcement of an outdated stereotype) to creep into Comms in 2024. But, despite such positive progress in recent years it can happen and the PR industry can get the messaging wrong. So, as overall awareness grows and our knowledge improves, we should always pledge to listen, learn and to “do better” when it comes to creating meaningful, sensitive and thought-provoking content.

Whether a 2,000 word thought-leadership feature, or 280 characters of a social media post, well-researched language always has the power to inform – and to transform the lives of those people living with a mental health condition and who might be feeling marginalised, lonely and unheard.

Indeed, research carried out by the charity Mind with ITV in 2022, showed that 1 in 4 people (26%) who have watched, heard or read about mental health in the media felt inspired to start a conversation about their own mental health as a result.

We feel very privileged to have been entrusted with many mental health projects and campaigns over the years, ranging from case-study led initiatives around bereavement and grief; policy led media launches to explore the impact on mental health among the UK’s vast network of carers; and expert-led media relations programmes to highlight service delivery and treatment innovation pioneered by major hospital groups / providers of mental health rehabilitation and care.

Our team is often called on to curate content across multiple media platforms to engage coverage and conversation about issues such as addiction, personality and behavioural disorders, anxiety and depression, PTSD, phobias and eating disorders. And we’ve also learnt to appreciate the nuances and sensitivities when communicating media health news in different regions, specifically and most recently our work in the Middle East market where the understanding and acceptance of the prevalence and impact of mental health is undisputedly different to that in the UK – and whilst people and their ‘problems’ might have many similarities, the ways in which they need to be communicated can be a world apart.

So, is it still good to talk about mental health in the media? 100% yes! The message from the mental health community, and from the experts advocating on behalf of all those living with a mental health condition has been loud and clear for many years. It’s great to talk, there’s nothing to be ashamed of and positive, well-informed coverage, debate and lived experience reported in national, regional, trade and social media goes a long way in helping to break down barriers and tackle the remaining taboos surrounding mental health.

And finally, can a team of Comms and content specialists help to positively raise awareness of mental health campaigns and services? In the right hands, a specialist PR team in the healthcare sector can play a huge role in helping to communicate key messages about mental health, ensuring an inclusive and sensitive debate, working with both experts and case studies and allowing them to take ownership of current issues, share their experience and to tell their own story, in their own words.

It’s vital that mental health comms is not confined to awareness weeks – we should all be talking openly and honestly about the issues affecting individuals and families across all platforms and normalising the debate.  If you’d like to talk to one of our team about how we could help you to raise awareness around your mental health campaign, charity or clinical service, please message Trinity at info@trinitypr.co.uk / 020 7112 4905 / 0770 948 7959

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