Authors: The Times, Victor Harbor SA Journalist: Carolyn Jeffrey
Event: 2008 TheMHS Awards
Type of resource: TheMHS Awards
Award state: SA
Award level: Winner
Award category: Print
Abstract: The full page feature published in The Times, Victor Harbor on 31/1/08 was a response to the community’s shock at the death of Australian actor Heath Ledger who reportedly was suffering from depression. Many people were shocked that someone so successful could suffer from this mental illness and it was clear many people didn’t understand. I am the managing editor of the newspaper and have been for 12 years. I am extremely well-known in the community and well-respected. As the story indicates I suffer panic anxiety and depression and most people in our community, including my staff of about 30, would not have known this. It was a difficult decision for me to “come out of the closet”, so to speak, about my illness, but felt I had a responsibility to do so, given my position, and my desire to help others in a similar situation. I had three prime motivations – to try to help remove the stigma attached to mental illness, increased public understanding of the illness and to also hope that even if one person sought help for themselves I had made a difference. I was quite overwhelmed by the public response. Third-year cadet journalist Claire Thwaites assisted in putting together the background information about depression, sourcing tips from the internet and speaking to a local mental health professional. Carolyn Jeffrey has been the managing editor of The Times at Victor Harbor for 12 years having completed a journalism cadetship in Port Macquarie NSW and being the managing editor of the West Coast Sentinel at Ceduna SA for two years. She also served as a regional journalist/newsreader with ABC Radio in Kempsey NSW.