An “unprecedented” level of media coverage of mental health issues in the past year has resulted in 31 per cent of people feeling “less alone”, according to a poll conducted on behalf of mental health charity Mind.
The charity said journalists are now believed to have more influence in changing attitudes towards mental health than politicians, as high profile news reports of the issue encouraged wider discussion among the public.
Mind said stories like Danny Rose becoming the first English footballer to speak out about suffering with depression and coverage of the Heads Together mental health campaign fronted by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry have contributed to the change in attitudes.
Telegraph journalist Bryony Gordon also made a huge impact in 2017 when Prince Harry opened up about mental health on her Mad World podcast.
The research also showed that 28 per cent of respondents started a conversation about mental health after seeing news reports, and more than half (53 per cent) said the Royal Family had encouraged a national discussion.
The public also thought TV broadcasters (81 per cent) or newspaper journalists (79 per cent) have more influence in changing attitudes to mental health than teachers (75 per cent) or politicians (70 per cent).
The figures were released as entries opened for the Mind Media Awards 2018, which celebrate the best reporting and portrayals of mental health in the media.
Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, said: “These statistics show that high profile, positive media coverage can have an immediate and dramatic effect on the nation’s mental health – not only helping people to feel less alone, but encouraging people to speak out and seek support for themselves and others.
“Last year saw an unprecedented amount of coverage of mental health issues. From Stormzy to the Duke of Sussex speaking out about their experiences, there has been a sea-change in people’s confidence to open up and a recognition that in doing so it can help others who may be struggling in silence.”
He added: “It’s clear that journalists still wield an enormous power in influencing the public’s understanding and awareness of mental health.
“The media now have the opportunity to continue that momentum, and shape a better national conversation about mental health.
“We urge journalists, producers and programme makers to build on this ground-breaking year and are excited about receiving strong entries to this year’s Mind Media Awards.”
Entries for the awards opened today with categories including news and current affairs programming, radio coverage, print publication, individual journalist and student journalist.
Winners will be decided by a panel of media experts, many of whom have personal experience of mental health problems or have previously been honoured at the awards.
Winners will be announced at the Mind Media Awards on 29 November.