Dear Editor, Mary Kenny’s article entitled ‘What liberal’s don’t report about mental health’ (IC 7/10/13) is not only inaccurate but unacceptably stigmatising and serves only to propagate the myths and mistruths that link violence to people with experience of mental health problems.
It is hugely concerning how Mary Kenny bases her entire piece around two anecdotes, ignoring a significant evidence base that shows that people experiencing mental health problems are no more likely to commit a violent crime than any other member of the population. The sad fact is that people experiencing mental health problems are more likely to be the victims of violence, either through self-harm or violence by others.
The alleged link between mental health problems and violence is one of the misleading and hurtful myths that contribute to the stigma surrounding mental health problems. The prejudice and fear caused by stigma is one of the most significant problems encountered by people with mental health difficulties and may even prevent people coming forward and seeking the help they need. It is vital for the well-being of individuals that the media do not perpetuate this stigma by relying on negative and erroneous stereotypes to report on mental health issues.
Media professionals play a significant role in shaping the beliefs systems of the population. Therefore, it is important to strive for accuracy in coverage of mental health issues and to be mindful of the impact of reporting on the 1 in 4 of your readers who may have personal experience of a mental health problem.
Media Project Officer,