As part of the 7th Mental Health Festival, the Institute for Public Health of Vojvodina and OPENS awarded prizes for ethical media reporting on mental health. The award ceremony took place in the Digital Youth Centre of Public Library Novi Sad on Wednesday, Oct 19, 2022, at 6 pm. Journalists from various media categories that approached the subject rationally, without prejudice and stigmatization, won prizes. In the printed / online media category award was given to Jasna Grizer for her text The Relationship Between Postpartum Psychosis and Bipolar Disorder: Ana’s and Jasna’s Experiences, published on The Disability Portal.
Twenty-seven texts entered the contest. Members of the expert jury of the Institute for Public Health of Vojvodina were: Dr Milica Lazic, a psychologist, Research Associate at the Faculty of Philosophy in Novi Sad, and journalists Jovana Gligorijevic and Dragana Prica Kovacevic.
The awards ceremony was preceded by the Tribune on Ethical Media Reporting on Mental Health. Participants of the tribune were members of the jury, accompanied by Dragan Nesin, a psychologist and member of the jury for awarding ethical media reporting about the mental health of the young. Tanja Bokun, a psychologist and a member of the program board of the Festival of Mental Health, acted as a moderator of the tribune.
The visitors had a chance to get additional information about mental health media coverage and take part in the discussions.
– The very need to award a prize in this field speaks volumes about the current state of reporting on mental health in Serbia – said Dr Milica Lazic.
She added that reporting on mental health is often in the manner of giving instant, easy, and trivialized advice, even in big crises occurrences. She emphasized that, by and large, the media don’t pay attention to whether their coverage would hurt persons with a mental disability or their families.
Exemplars, as the last category in mental health reporting, are journalists pointing out the problem they are trying to solve, trying to change the position of persons with disabilities, meet their needs, and aspire to destigmatize and develop better general conditions for them.
Awarded works are by educated authors about specific phenomena within mental health. The subjects are informative, searching for a way that persons with invisible disabilities could help themselves, relying both on inner resources and other types of support. All the themes included relevant interlocutors and expanded the border from mere diagnosis to understanding the human experience.
– The problem should be viewed in a broader context. Media don’t consider these to be current topics that might interest the readers because interest in yellow journalism, sensationalism, and show business is predominant – said Dragana Prica Kovacevic.
She marked that there is a need for education, primarily for editors, because they decide whether a piece will be published and determine titles, followed by training for journalists. Journalists approach this issue individually, and it basically depends on the ethical code they have.
– Many colleagues of mine want to do things right, but the problem is that they do not get the space needed – emphasized Dragana Prica Kovacevic.
Dragana Nesin says it is far more difficult to find text written for the young that paint the picture of mental health in a dignified, humane, and ethical way than sensational content.
– Unethical text can have a negative impact on readers, which is especially visible on portals in the form of judgmental and offensive comments – she said.
Jury members agreed that an educational program, designed for editors, journalists, and students of journalism, about ethical reporting on mental health, should be devised. They pointed out that they agreed about the awarded authors swiftly and that these awards will, in the future, instigate journalists, to write realistically, guided by ethical principles.
In the printed / online media category, the jury decided to award Jasna Grizer for her text The Relationship between Postpartum Psychosis and Bipolar Disorder: Ana’s and Jasna’s Experiences, published on The Disability Portal.
The jury highlighted that The Disability Portal has been fostering, from its founding, the highest standards of ethical reporting, especially regarding mental health. Awarded text that chooses a delicate and substantial topic that is neglected in the media raises the bar even higher and represents a hard-to-reach degree of quality. The author herself is a partaker in the story but manages not to confuse the two roles for a minute.
Dunja Jankovic received an award within the same category for the text When We Go for a Walk, I look up in the Sky, published in the magazine Liceulice. This text is particularly distinguishable for it deals with a crucial, often neglected topic, as well as the manner it has been written. The journalist displays exceptional skills in bringing the stories, aimed at destigmatization of persons with disabilities and their families, closer to the readers.
In the TV program category, the award was given to Jelena Kozlovic for her piece Mental Health of the Sportsman/Women: Medals like Shackles. The journalist worked in a responsible and conscientious way, consulted trainers, experts, and a sportswoman who shared her experience and encouraged others to seek help – as stated in the jury’s explanation. The author analyses a topic that is seldom talked about and even more seldom reported.
In the radio show/podcast category, Jelena Bozic got an award for her work Mental Health Doesn’t Exclude the Presence of Unpleasant Emotions. It was broadcasted on the radio show What Kind of Country I Want to Live in, on Youth Radio (Oradio) of Radio and Television of Vojvodina. The work particularly stood out because the journalist brought the topic of mental health closer to the listeners in a manner that doesn’t include pathologization but normalization. Simultaneously, the podcast is dynamic, informative, and practical, with diverse interlocutors, managed very professionally, and focused on problem solutions.
Special awards for ethical reporting about the mental health of the young were given to:
Petar Klaic for the work Safe Space for Free Psychological Help, Youth Radio (Oradio), Radio Television of Vojvodina, and Jelena Bozic for Mental Health doesn’t Exclude Unpleasant Emotions, broadcasted in the radio show What Kind of Country I Want to Live in, on Youth Radio (Oradio) of Radio and Television of Vojvodina.
The award for continuous work on the topic of mental health is given to Andjela Andrijevic for Subconscious (Subworld): ep 7: Suicide Prevention.
After the award ceremony, an exhibition of web comics and digital illustrations transformed into viral forms on social networks was organized, as well as a forum with young digital creators called Mental Health Influencers.