7 October, 2013
We were, along with many others, shocked by the Sun headline this morning – ’1,200 KILLED BY MENTAL PATIENTS’ – and pleased to see such a swift response issued by the Time to Change programme, led by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness.
The statement, available here, questions the balance the paper has struck between the headline figure and the more detailed statistical breakdowns, which are in fact acknowledged in the article itself. By its very nature, a national daily newspaper headline suggests ‘news’ – something new, or recent, carrying urgency and immediacy. In fact, the fuller copy on pages 6 and 7 admits that these homicide figures have actually stayed around the same level for decades.
While the essence of the article – the need to address failings within the system – is important and based on clear evidence, the tone in which these facts are presented clearly undermines much of the great work Time to Change and many mental health organisations have been doing over recent years.
We would reiterate the call issued by the Chief Executives of Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, for media outlets to consider the impact of their reporting, both on public understanding of a complex issue and on people who have mental health problems and are, as they point out, far more likely to be victims of crime than the perpetrators.