Judge and Jury: Mind’s game wins support from a most unlikely quarter - A Mind report showing the public’s attitude to mental health has appeared to make the media take a more supportive stance on care in the community, says Leslie Morphy,

Given the complexities of the human mind, it is not perhaps surprising that its dysfunction engenders fear and distrust in the minds of the so-called ’sane’ public. As a result the ’not in my backyard syndrome’ code name ’NIMBY’ had been effectively swept under the carpet until the mental health charity Mind published a report last week entitled ’Respect - time to end discrimination on mental health grounds.’

Given the complexities of the human mind, it is not perhaps

surprising that its dysfunction engenders fear and distrust in the minds

of the so-called ’sane’ public. As a result the ’not in my backyard

syndrome’ code name ’NIMBY’ had been effectively swept under the carpet

until the mental health charity Mind published a report last week

entitled ’Respect - time to end discrimination on mental health

grounds.’



The report marked the launch of Mind’s new two-year ’Respect’ campaign

which includes the first national study of local opposition to mental

health projects in the community.



Considering the somewhat thorny nature of the NIMBY issue, Mind’s report

and press campaign generated a surprising amount of considered, and

non-sensationalist, column inches and airtime after its launch on 2

June.



This isn’t a cuddly charity story, but the message hit home with

well-informed reportage and some powerful visuals in a wide cross

section of national and regional newspapers and broadcast media. The

picture the report presented of angry residents at public meetings held

to discuss the ramifications of a care unit set up within the their

communities provided an emotive media ’hook’.



Mind effectively conveyed the report’s findings of a bigoted and

blinkered society, where lack of understanding about mental health

creates a downward spiral for the mentally ill. Mind’s objective was to

change public perception of the people living with mental health

problems, raising the profile of the work of the charity, while also

providing greater priority for education on mental healthcare. It argued

persuasively that care and shelter for the mentally ill within the

community guarantees a far greater level of confidence and security for

all parties.



The media harked back to the case of Christopher Clunis murder by a

mental patient to highlight the plight of both the mentally ill and the

public in caring for the mentally ill. The high profile case sparked off

many of the negative images surrounding community care.



The publicity generated by the report was managed by a hardworking

in-house team on a small budget. The media, which in the past hampered

Mind’s work with sensationalist and negative coverage, has been

supportive in its response. Such positive media coverage to counter the

wave of shock horror stories of the past few years will be crucial to

the success of this campaign.



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