S12: LEAD & PANEL PRESENTATIONS: Stigma/Language (Social Justice)

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By November 24, 2022 No Comments

Authors: Anna Ross, Amy Morgan, Nicola Reavley, Jackie Mead, Peta Dampney, Terri Warner, Senuri Weerasekara, Imogen Rehm, Linda Chiodo

Year: 2022

Event: 2022 TheMHS Conference

Subject: stigma, social justice, services, CALD,

Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers

Abstract: LEAD PRESENTATION: Evaluating the impact of StigmaWatch in improving media portrayals of suicide and mental illness
Anna Ross, Amy Morgan, Nicola Reavley, Jackie Mead

SANE Australia’s StigmaWatch program promotes responsible reporting of mental illness and suicide in the Australian media. It aims to reduce stigma and other harms stemming from problematic media portrayals of suicide and mental illness by holding the media accountable for portrayals that breach the Mindframe guidelines. Members of the public can report media coverage that potentially breaches media guidance to StigmaWatch through the SANE Australia website. Reports of media coverage that breaches media guidance are actioned by the StigmaWatch team who provide constructive feedback to journalists and media outlets for revising the media item to ensure it is consistent with Mindframe guidance.

In collaboration with researchers from The University of Melbourne, we conducted the first evaluation of the StigmaWatch program. Our evaluation used data that was routinely collected through StigmaWatch over a 5-year period to determine the program’s impact on breaches of media guidelines. Our findings also uncovered trends in media items being reported to StigmaWatch. Our findings demonstrate the substantial impact of the StigmaWatch program, and have important implications for improving StigmaWatch practices and for future research.

PANEL PRESENTATION: Talking the Talk: Using the right language when discussing suicide, body image and mental health.
Peta Dampney

How mentally safe an individual will feel in an environment is largely determined by the language used surrounding them to discuss mental health and suicide.

Language represents us and defines us. The language we choose to use and promote has the capacity to either empower individuals or alternatively to disempower them. This ultimately can affect how clients engage with services, it can reduce staff morale, increase staff absenteeism, decrease productivity of staff and most importantly determine how an individual defines themselves. Is there hope or is there more negativity?

In this presentation, attendees will be guided through the different spaces and situations in human interactions in which the use of language regarding mental health, body image and suicide can impact upon others being communicated to as well as the communicator themselves. Peta will provide a glossary of safe words and terms to incorporate into your daily formal and informal conversations and formal communications both internally and externally. These language guidelines not only correlate with best practice and guidelines, but will also contribute towards individuals feeling more valued by their peers and leaders as well as feeling more mentally safe.

PANEL PRESENTATION: Psychosocial Disability and Identity: A qualitative study of perspectives on meaning
Terri Warner

Though its usage has increased in Australia, there is as yet no agreed and consistent definition of the term 'psychosocial disability' here or internationally. Psychosocial disability is a disability category, a subcategory within mental health, and a category of identity that has thus far been defined largely in the context, and for the purposes of, policy. However, the complexity inherent to defining a category of person for policy has led to the subversion of this definition, and this in turn has affected how policies such as the National Disability Insurance Scheme have been implemented. This presentation will outline a qualitative research project seeking to understand what members of different groups think and feel about the term 'psychosocial disability', what it means to them, and how they have been affected by the way it is presently defined and used in Australian policy.

PANEL PRESENTATION: Understanding Mental Health Stigma in Asian Migrant Communities in Australia: A Systematic Literature Review
Senuri Weerasekara, Imogen Rehm, Linda Chiodo

Research shows that stigma about mental health issues is a common deterrent of treatment seeking. Mental health stigma and treatment avoidance is present in Asian communities around the world where “stigma” can be conceptualised as including severe feelings of shame. In some communities, mental health issues can be conceptualised and treated using cultural and religious approaches, such that Western approaches may not necessarily be suitable to the needs of those communities. It is currently unclear whether treatment seeking among Asian communities is low because of Western approaches to mental healthcare not being culturally responsive or because of the perceived stigma associated with mental illness. The literature is also yet to clearly document the understandings and impact of stigma among Asian communities who have migrated to Australia. This systematic literature review will delve into the current literature to depict what is currently known about the conceptualisations of mental wellness, mental illness, and mental health stigma in Asian migrant populations in Australia. The findings may support a broader understanding of mental health and stigma in Asian migrant communities to inform future studies investigating the impact of mental health stigma from a lived experience perspective.

PANEL PRESENTATION: Painting the Picture: The Media's Role in Representing Substance Use.
Peta Dampney

In 2019 Mindframe released their guidelines for the Australian media to encourage journalists and media outlets to improve the ways in which they report on substance use. The guidelines reiterated that media coverage of substance use has both the capacity to decrease stigma by utilising appropriate language and terminology as well as to better educate the general population about local resources and to promote help seeking.

Sadly, many media outlets have refused to adopt these guidelines in their practice and instead continue to propagate sensationalised headlines and images as click bait to generate more ratings and advertising dollars. Why is it seen for the media to advertise alcohol, gambling and other substances but when it comes to certain substances they choose to blatantly discriminate against users creating even further barriers for individuals to access care and support.

In this presentation, Peta will demonstrate the contradictory messages that mainstream media outlets communicate about substance use to us, their consumers. She will also provide attendees with strategies that they can use to advocate for media to adhere to the Mindframe guidelines and to create more educational, informative and evidence based content.

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