Editorial: The Cambridge Student signs The Mental Health Media Charter

Sophie Dickinson 10 October 2017
Image credit: The Mental Health Media Charter

The Cambridge Student has today, World Mental Health Awareness day, signed The Mental Health Media Charter. The Michaelmas 2017 team have decided that the values expressed in the charter are shared amongst the editorial team, and have made a commitment to the sensitive reporting of mental health issues.

Too often, the portrayal of mental health in journalism can be insensitive, or worse, sensationalist. As a source of news and comment in Cambridge, TCS feels it is important to be conscious and critical of how we report such issues, and share useful resources. Hopefully, this awareness amongst our writers will allow the conversation around mental health to be a constructive one, and also guide people towards getting the appropriate help.

The charter gives some suggestions about how to do this, and comments on the impact of indifferent commentary. Triggering, or just thoughtless reporting, can be detrimental for an individual, but also on a general societal level. That is not to say mental health should not be talked about- our newspaper is dedicated to providing resources for those who feel they need help, and is also a space in which honest discussions of mental health issues are welcome.

The commitment feels particularly important at this university. Statistics obtained by TCS in 2015 found that only 55% of Cambridge students find the workload on their course manageable, whilst only 38% agreed that their course “does not apply unnecessary pressure”.

As this stress is apparently endemic, national attitudes are still based in stigma, and services are underfunded, The Mental Health Media Charter is a vital contribution to the conversation about our mental health.

For more information about mental health at the university, read Ellie Sophie’s guide here, or see the print edition for a list of contacts for student welfare.

An interview with the creator of the Charter, Natasha Devon MBE, will be available to read on our website later today.