The mental health charity Mind has named Health Service Journal’s Emma Dent as its journalist of the year.
The judges, Simon Garfield (The Observer), Sophie Goodchild (The Independent on Sunday) and Joanna Kowalski (Nottingham Evening Post), all previous Mind prizewinners, praised features reporter Dent’s “analytical and considered” articles about dangerous and severe personality disorder (DSPD), patients getting into employment and the relationship between ethnic minorities and mental health services.
The award, given for outstanding reporting of mental health issues in the local, national and consumer press, is in its 12th year and was presented last week at a ceremony hosted by Lord Bragg, Mind’s president.
Dent, who has worked on Emap’s Health Service Journal for almost three years, explained that she deliberately chose topics such as DSPD because “there’s a lot of hype around it and it’s quite misunderstood”, but said that media coverage of mental health issues had, on the whole, improved.
She said: “The Sun’s headline on Frank Bruno being ‘a nutter’ was a turning point. If the mental health charities think that someone in the tabloids or on the news has been derogatory about mental health issues, they do tend to complain about it, which they didn’t do so much a few years ago.
“In some of the tabloids you probably still find mental health not being treated very sympathetically. There’s still a big issue when crime is committed by a person with mental health problems – they’re disproportionately talked about in relation to the level of crime committed by people with mental health problems. Only a tiny proportion of people with mental health issues would ever be violent.”
Others shortlisted for the award were: The Guardian’s Madeleine Bunting and Nick Johnstone, Paul Groves and Nikki Aaron from The Birmingham Post, Jo Stagg of the Cambridge Evening News and Jane Murphy of Health and Fitness magazine.