Experts task journalists on mental health reporting
Experts have frowned on the discrimination against persons with mental health challenges; hence, they tasked journalists on responsible reporting of such issues.
The experts, who came from various health backgrounds, unanimously agreed that responsible and accurate reporting would go a long way in reducing stigma and misunderstanding surrounding mental health conditions in the country.
Speaking at a capacity-building webinar organised for media practitioners, at the weekend, they held that accurate reports on mental health would encourage people with such conditions to make themselves available for treatment.
The webinar was organised by Mental Health KAFE (MHKAFE), in collaboration with the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID) and the Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria (APN).
The National President, APN, Prof. Taiwo Obindo; founder of MHKAFE, Deborah Adenikinju; Prof. Taiwo Sheikh of the Psychiatry Department, University of Jos (UNIJOS) and the Deputy Director, Journalism Programme, CJID, Busola Ajinola are among the experts that discussed the issue.
They said “How you report stories about individuals with mental health challenges can increase awareness and reduce stigma around these conditions.”
Stressing that the media plays a critical role in advancing understandings on mental illness and suicide, they noted that fair and accurate when dealing with topics such as mental health, “which already is entrenched in stigma and misunderstanding” has become necessary.
The experts, who went ahead to call on media organisations to take steps to support their employees’ well-being by counselling services, mental health training and promoting a healthy work-life balance, also beckoned individuals in the industry to prioritise self-care.
This, they believe, can be achieved by seeking support from colleagues and professionals, as well as always being alert to the signs of mental health.
Among the numerous factors that can impact the mental well-being of media practitioners include irregular work schedules, job insecurity, vicarious trauma, lack of self-care and a high pressure environment.
Citing the National Suicide Prevention Strategy Framework, which work, they said “is in progress by the Federal Ministry of Health, partnering APN, CJID, Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), health reporters, mental health professional, Service User Group and other civil society organisations, they believe, will facilitate the processes.
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