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Media coverage having 'huge impact' on mental health awareness

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Prince Harry recently spoke on his mental health Prince Harry recently spoke on his mental health

People’s understanding of mental health is improved and they are more likely to seek help because of increased media coverage, according to research from Mind.

The mental health charity said news reports, documentaries, celebrity interviews, soap and drama storylines about mental health have a ‘huge impact’ on encouraging people to talk, show new findings released by Mind today. They said 35% of people who have seen a storyline involving a character with mental health problems were inspired them to start a conversation about mental health, and half said that it changed their opinion about the kind of people that can develop a mental health problem.

Sensitive reporting of mental health stories in the news can also play an important role in supporting people with mental health problems, as Mind said 24% of people said that seeing or reading news reports about mental health help them feel less alone.

Celebrities speaking out about their mental health experiences was also shown to be impactful with 24% of people saying that hearing accounts from people in the public eye helped them to feel less alone and 21% had started a conversation about mental health inspired by celebrity stories in the news.

Younger people were likely to say they felt encouraged to seek help or support for their mental health as a result of reading about mental health stories in the news, with 24% of 18-24 year olds saying they had felt encouraged to seek help after having read a story similar to theirs in the media.

Mind chief executive Paul Farmer said: ‘These statistics show just how powerful all forms of media can be in inspiring people to start a conversation about mental health and encouraging them to seek help. We have seen an enormous amount of mental health media coverage in recent months. We are so grateful to the media for getting behind the campaign and helping to raise vital awareness.

‘Following Prince Harry’s candid interview with the Daily Telegraph we saw a 38% increase in calls to our Mind phone line. Media reporting can really be a lifeline.’

Mind said that record was quickly broken the day after the London Marathon – where the charity focus had been mental health – with a 58% increase in calls.

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