COMMUNICATIONS NEWS: Charities for mental health link to tackle media stereotypes

The See Me campaign, managed by five Scottish mental health charities, has launched a project to stamp out the use of derogatory terms relating to mental illness in the media.

When words such as "loony", "psycho" and "schizo" appear in the media, they contribute to discrimination against people with mental health problems, according to See Me.

Stigma Stop Watch will build up a database of supporters who will be asked to write to journalists in response to negative coverage of mental ill health. They will praise positive coverage.

Campaign director Linda Dunion said: "We have seen language change relating to racism and discrimination against women. But we know that changing attitudes takes 10 to 20 years - it's a long-term campaign."

Dunion had a recent success when she complained about a character in the BBC series Jonathan Creek. She pointed out that a serial killer was a stereotypical portrayal of a person with mental illness, which reinforced the myth connecting violence with mental ill health. She received an on-air apology from the programme's writer.

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