The media have a fundamental role as shapers of public opinion and an unquestionable weight in the construction of reality. When the health area is debated, the media’s ability to inform, train and/or influence is of added importance.
With these issues in mind, the Portuguese Society of Psychiatry and Mental Health (SPPSM) decided to launch the INFORMEMENTE project.
INFORMEMENTE’s first step was to carry out a qualitative analysis of the news related to this area of health, published by the Portuguese press. A representative sample was created to understand how mental health is approached by the Portuguese media, namely the most mentioned diseases, the presence of stigma and the most news-generating sources, among other aspects. There followed some interviews with journalists who normally write about health, in order to evaluate the way these professionals approach the topic of mental illness, the judgment they make of this approach and which channels they turn to to clarify doubts.
For the SPPSM, it is urgent to help form an enlightened society that minimizes the stigma that weighs on all people with mental disorders, family members and caregivers. To this end, it intends to count on the collaboration and active voice of the media in this project and in the consequent promotion of Mental Health in our country.
INFORMEMENTE’s first initiative was the presentation of the “Essential guide for journalists on mental health”. A practical manual created specifically for the media, in response to the lack of enlightening and impartial information.