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Mental illness and the role of communication.

1 in 5 Australians will experience mental ill-health within a 12-month period. While mental ill-health can be difficult to talk about, it’s clear that we need to.

In recent years, there’s been a positive change in the way we discuss mental health and wellbeing. From more media coverage, to trigger warning and help messages becoming the norm, we’re heading in the right direction. However, there’s still a long way to go.

Negative attitudes, stereotypes and stigma continue to underpin conversations about mental ill-health. A shift towards safe reporting, portrayal and communication is critical to reducing mental ill-health stigma and encouraging help-seeking behaviour.

In this episode of Commical, Marie is joined by Dr. Elizabeth Paton. She is Project Lead on Everymind’s Mindframe program, which supports safe media reporting, portrayal and communication about suicide, mental ill-health and alcohol and other drugs.


How can we improve the way we address mental ill-health? 

The way individuals, organisations and the media communicate about mental ill-health significantly impacts our understanding and perception of the topic. Elizabeth highlights that while discussion may be increasing, there are major gaps.

Often our news, films and tv shows present extreme and negative depictions of mental health issues. They neglect to show positive behaviours such as receiving treatment and managing symptoms. This imbalance perpetuates negative stereotypes and is detrimental to how the public perceives mental illness.

Elizabeth stresses that our conversation around mental illness needs to be accurate and inclusive. We need to place our focus on prevention and encouraging help-seeking behaviour. This includes using safe and inclusive language, ensuring access to information and support, and modelling positive behaviours.

Tune in and learn how you can improve your communication skills to better support your friends, family, and colleagues who may be living with mental illness. Elizabeth brings her extensive knowledge in both mental health research and media, to share essential considerations for communication best-practice.

About Dr. Elizabeth Paton

Dr. Elizabeth Paton is Acting Project Lead on Everymind’s Mindframe program. The program supports safe media reporting, portrayal and communication about suicide, mental ill-health and alcohol and other drugs. During her time at the Institute, she has also contributed to mental health and suicide prevention initiatives including Life in Mind, the National Communications Charter, the Lived Experience project and Suicide in Road Transport Project.

Prior to joining Everymind, Elizabeth worked as a science communication researcher and as an education and outreach officer for a neuroscience research centre. She has taught and published across areas such as suicide prevention, responsible research and innovation, media, communication, and the creative industries. She has also worked as a broadcast journalist and freelance writer.

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Fusing communication expertise and stand-up comedy makes for a unique take on a business podcast, and very easy listening. Commical explores a range of interpersonal, group and mass communication topics through the experiences of my talented guests.

Light in tone, heavy in value – download now from all good podcast apps or listen online now.

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