Mental health in the media

Author: Hannah Castleton

In 2019, it is not unusual to see the words ‘mental health’, ‘sustainability’ and, ‘well-being’ featured frequently across media and social channels, as the topics become a much more fluid conversation for everyone.

The world of PR must adapt to this and move with the motion it heads in, veganism is on the rise, people care more about their health than ever before, and brands must recognise and deliver for these growing factors. From hotels in the Middle East such as JA Resorts and Hotels becoming the most sustainable resort in Dubai, to vegan/gluten-free restaurants and cafés such as Bounty Beets.

But what about mental health? Does the media have a responsibility to promote healthy practices and feature brands that are bringing mental health to the forefront? Mental health satisfaction is one of the key performance indicators of the pillar of world-class healthcare of the UAE National Agenda. The UAE Government is regularly undertaking new measures to address mental health issues and reduce the stigma associated with it.

“Informed journalists can have a significant impact on public understanding of mental health issues as they shape debate and trends with the words and pictures they convey.”

Rosalynn Carter, Former First Lady of the United States

Celebrities and public figures such as actors Dwayne Johnson and Gina Rodriguez, and singers such as Ariana Grande and Jesy Nelson have also broken their silence and used their social media platforms to share their own stories about their mental health. This has even led to documentaries that are being urged to be shown in schools and colleges around the world to encourage others to take accountability for their words and actions.

An increasing number of brands are bringing out products/services to raise awareness around mental health too, or raising money for organisations that specialise in treating mental illness. For example, a theatre company in London invited influencers to promote a show about mental health called “Brainfood”.

At the same time, an influx of wellness brands are launching everything from functional fragrances to nutritional supplements in the name of stress reduction. Huge global brands are also choosing to highlight such topics, such as Burger King. With their anti-Happy meals, Burger King partnered with the non-profit Mental Health America to launch the Real Meal campaign to create the message ‘no-one is happy all the time’. This was a clever dig at their main competitor, McDonald’s, but powerful nonetheless.

As we learn to adapt in an age where social media is part of our lives, choosing to carry on the conversations of mental health and providing strategies and solutions going forward remains very high on the agenda and a topical subject in the media landscape.