Paxman: we'll work with experts to give mental health a better press

By Colin Crummy

The
stigma suffered by people with mental health problems is partly the
fault of the media, Newsnight’s Jeremy Paxman has told an awards
ceremony.

In a keynote address at the 12th annual Mental Health
Media Awards, he said: “The media focuses on the exceptional, bizarre
or horrific, and the consequence is that people with mental health
problems are treated worse than they ought to be.

“Education is the answer.

The
mental health world needs to actively engage with the media and educate
them without appearing to be didactic. It isn’t going to be easy, but
to some degree it’s pushing on an open door, because all of us
recognise that mental health is an issue that affects everyone.”

Paxman
presented ITN’s Channel 4 News team with the Making a Difference Award
for its contribution to the reporting of mental health issues.

Jon Snow, accepting on behalf of the team, said: “This is a tremendous honour.

Mental health is one of the most neglected areas of society… neglect that is mirrored in the mainstream press.

“We
at Channel 4 News are delighted to have made some contribution toward
remedying this, but there is still so much more to be done, and we
shall try to do more.”

Maggie Gibbons, chief executive of Mental
Health Media, said: “Year on year, Channel 4 News produces consistently
excellent reports on mental health. They keep on setting the standard,
broadcasting high quality, investigative pieces that are not only
reactive, but also dig deeper to raise awareness of hidden issues and
to set a new agenda.”

Channel 4 News also scooped the TV and Radio News award for their report “Suicide Watch: Survivable Prisons”.

BBC
Radio 4 picked up the factual radio award for its programme Suicide
(You and Yours) and Century films won the TV Documentaries award for
its Channel 4 programme Make Me Normal. Judges included screenwriter
Paul Abbott and The Big Issue’s editorin- chief, John Bird.

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