Journalists build new guide to mental health reporting

LONDON, ON, June 26, 2013 /CNW/ - Work has begun on a comprehensive, Canadian guide to mental health reporting to be launched next year, compiled by journalists for journalists.

The bilingual project, headed by the Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma in partnership with CBC News, will include a printed guide, a special website and a series of webinars.

"There's growing recognition that it's time to bring mental health issues out into the open and to examine how society and the media may be combining to reinforce the stigma that condemns hundreds of thousands of Canadians to suffer unnecessarily," said Forum president Cliff Lonsdale.

"There's been some excellent, groundbreaking work on this in the media across the country in the last few years. But there are also cases where coverage, in the context of breaking news, reinforces damaging myths. Often this happens when general news reporters have to cover dramatic incidents involving mental health issues without warning. We want to help them - and others just entering the business - avoid pitfalls, add vital perspective and reduce collateral damage."

The project will be called Mindset - Reporting on Mental Health/En-tête - reportage et santé mentale. The printed guide will contain focused facts and advice, with elaboration and discussion in greater depth on the website.  After launch, expected in March 2014, a series of webinars will be held to extend participation and discussion across Canada.

"Mindset/En-tête has the potential to be an important resource for working journalists in every newsroom across the country," said Jennifer McGuire, General Manager and Editor-in-Chief of CBC News. "The challenges we face covering mental health issues require a sophisticated and nuanced approach. The team at the Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma is well-equipped to take on this project, and CBC News is delighted to lend its support."

The Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma counts senior journalists, journalism educators and mental health professionals among its membership and board of directors. The educational charity is devoted to the physical and emotional wellbeing of journalists as well as the impact of coverage on the public at large.

Mindset/En-tête is made possible, in part, as a result of funding from the Mental Health Commission of Canada, provided to MHCC by a grant from Health Canada. Editorial control of content rests with the Forum.

"A well informed and resourced media has the power to shift the way people view mental health," said Louise Bradley, President and CEO of the Mental Health Commission of Canada. "The fact that journalists themselves have undertaken the creation of this guide speaks to their commitment to truth telling and to being agents of change."

For more information about the Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma, go to http://journalismforum.fims.uwo.ca.

SOURCE: Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma

For further information:

Media enquiries to Jane Hawkes, Executive Producer, (519) 473 6434, or journalismforum@rogers.com


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