Call for media regulations on ‘derogatory’ mental health related terminology

Mental health foundation headspace have called for an enforceable code of practice of the media use of terminology which stigmatises those with mental health issues. Words suggested as inappropriate include “mental,” “psycho,” “schizo,” and “nutjob.” Headspace chief executive, Chris Tanti, believes that the gratuitous use of such language in a derogatory context increases stigma around mental illness, and decreases the likelihood of young people seeking help.

Mr Tanti said headspace was not seeking a ban on these specific words but that using mental health-related language unnecessarily should not be tolerated.

”We’ve taken words like sheila and poofter and wog out of everyday use but this is something that continues,” he said.

There is currently no general code of practice for the use of such discriminatory terms in the media. Media outlets in Australia have varying guidelines.

Australian Press Council chairman, Julian Disney, said such concerns were ”important and persuasive”, and would be given the ”highest possible priority” in press standards now under revision.

Source: SMH

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