Wednesday, 9 October 2013
The sensationalist Sun does it again
Once again the Sun newspaper has come out with yet another sensationalist headline for the sake of selling more newspapers, rather than reporting in a rational way. This time it’s ‘1,200 killed by mental patients’. This is a headline that angers me greatly because I have been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and according to this people may think that I have more potential to kill than someone who is not diagnosed with a mental health issue.
The problem with sensationalist journalism such as this is the good it undo’s in one fell swoop of the attempts by so many people to de-stigmatise mental health. This one headline has potentially stigmatised so many people as potential killers, when in fact these people are nothing of the sort.
How many people with mental health issues are going to be afraid again to speak about them to family, friends and work colleagues? How many people are going to be sat in a room all alone afraid and unable to speak about their feelings, emotions and fears to the very people who they should be able to speak to?
I often wonder if the people behind such headlines as this actually stop and think about the damage such a headline can do? Do they realise that a headline such as this has the potential to label, stigmatise and stereotype so many people and has the possibility to put back the image of mental health many, many years?
Mental health already has a bad image with a mental health issues labelled as a benefit scrounger, unemployable, untrustworthy and now a killer. One of the problems I have some days is just dealing with my own issues just to get through the day. This sensationalist reporting just adds to the issues that myself and many others like me have to deal with on a day to day basis by making me wary of who I can talk to and open up to for fear of being judged in a negative way.
But what can be done to combat this type of sensationalist reporting? Well in my opinion any headline that has the power to label, stigmatise and stereotype a certain section of people in society should be banned because these headlines may sell newspapers but they do far more harm than good. Secondly the figures should have some semblance of accuracy and not have been manipulated for the sake of an attention grabbing headline. Both offences should in my view carry at least a heavy fine with them and a full apology on the front page for the harm they have caused.
Here is a link to some responsible and accurate reporting on the same subject: http://www.theguardian.com/society/reality-check/2013/oct/07/sun-people-killed-mental-health-true