Stigma and Discrimination

Media-fuelled stigma and discrimination against people with mental health conditions is a global human rights crisis, according to a 2022 Lancet  Commission report

The study reveals that 70% of people with mental health conditions feel the media perpetuates stigma and discrimination, using stigmatising language and simplistically or inaccurately linking mental health conditions with violence. This causes further damage to people’s mental health and, at worst, contributes to suicidal behaviour.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) resource on suicide prevention highlights that vulnerable people are at risk of engaging in imitative behaviour following media reports on suicide. This risk is heightened if the coverage is extensive, prominent, sensational, or explicitly describes suicide methods, and repeats widely held myths about suicide. 

On the other hand, responsible reporting and positive stories about people in adverse circumstances seeking help can: 

  • help educate the public about suicide and its prevention
  • encourage people at risk of suicide to seek help 
  • inspire a more open and hopeful dialogue about mental health in general. 


Our objectives

United for Global Mental Health aims to:


Our approach

We continue to work with journalists and journalist networks around the world to encourage responsible reporting on mental health.

  • In 2022, we supported the launch of the Lancet Commission’s study on ending stigma and discrimination in mental health and now work to ensure the survey’s recommendations are implemented.
  • We have conducted seven media roundtables with journalists to discuss the media’s role in fighting mental health-related stigma and discrimination, and how the media can play a role in suicide prevention. The learning from our latest African media roundtable is summarised in an article hosted on the Center for Journalism, Innovation, and Development website. It includes a list of media resources for journalists.  
  • Together with the Global Mental Health Peer Network, we developed a media manifesto to end mental health stigma and discrimination. 
  • We frequently disseminate information and press releases on mental health to various media associations, given their potential to reach a wide range of journalists. 
  • We are establishing relationships with media associations, including the International Federation of Journalists, Carthage Health Association, and the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development  
  • We’ve supported the WHO to review the media guidelines for suicide prevention and will continue to identify platforms to disseminate the guidelines.
  • We contributed to a 2024 Lancet article exploring the perspectives of people with lived experience and how they can be part of reducing stigma and discrimination.