Saturday, August 19, 2017

Saturday Soapbox - media and mental health

Not exactly a soapbox, or a great pose, but anyway!
I'm going on a bit of a rant here, no need to read to the end if ranting's not your thing!

The media is driving me bats at the moment with their mixed messages, poor journalism, lack of 'research', tendency to tell us what they think we want/need to hear and not actual news.

My example this week is an easy one to start with - mental health and sport. (I have issues with politics but that such a huge topic, I'm not ready to wade into that one yet, so I'm starting in a confined space!).

The Australian media has been on a huge 'campaign' about the number of mental health issues in society, and especially among sportsmen/women, in particular retired sportspeople. But it's been a huge issue and has been drawn to the public's attention, mostly because of the number of sportspeople seeking rehab or help and then allowing that to be made public to break down stigmas. But, sadly, there has also been a high number of suicides.

Awareness has been a big factor, but also everyone's duty of care, plus things to look out for, what we can do to help, etc etc. I was thinking this was good. The media were taking this issue seriously.

Then this week, the same media who have raised these issues, have vilified a star sportsman, his team and his coach. We've heard how the star is a waste of money, not wanted, detrimental to the team, not working with the younger players, etc etc etc. It's been horrific. And not just journalists have got into this, we've got retired players, ex-teammates, commentators all having their say.We have young blokes drawn into the argument, with quotes of their thoughts, which they've then denied they said. Denied meeting the journo. We've a footy team trying to play with all this hanging over their heads, screamed about for a whole week.

If I was that player, the young players, the coach, or even a team mate...I'd be mentally scarred. It's been relentless. It's been personal attacks. It's been scathing.

And yet, we care about people's mental welbeing.

Yeah! Right!

The media cares only about selling a story. And sadly, with the click counting that websites allow, they know what headlines draw readers. So they use these emotive things to draw in readers, have huge clicks, 'win' whatever they're trying to 'win' ... and who cares about the mental health of anyone. Unless that's a good click-bait headline.

I'm horrified that we've come to this sort of journalism.

I'm horrified that we can one day be concerned about mental health, yet the next day attack someone with no care to their mental health.

Do we have no standards any more?
Do we not care for others?
Do we not have slander and libel concerns?
Do we not want to know the truth?
Do we not want to keep things behind closed doors for the welfare of others?

God. I despair for the world at the moment.

I despair for the sensationalist beings we've become where we feed on others' suffering or shame or humiliation, just so we feel a moment of ... whatever it is.

I'm limiting my clicks on news feeds. I'm trying not to get sucked into the click frenzy.

And I'm trying to find the good in a world that seems to have gone crazy.

How are you going with any of this stuff? Does it bother you too?


  1. I think you're talking about JH, aren't you? Don't mean to name him given that you haven't. AFL has similar issues. Yes, it's all about the headline. An example that's been happening over a long time in AFL is a Melbourne player, Jack Watts. Years ago he was Number 1 draft pick in the same draft as Nic Naitanui over here in the West. Jack has always copped flak because people feel he isn't as good as Naitanui, but also that he just doesn't deserve a spot, fullstop. As the years have gone on, he has been in and out of the Melbourne league team, and the calls for him to be traded have been relentless. Actually, also calls for him just to 'lift his game' vs being traded. And he is a far younger figure than JH and some of the more seasoned players such as say, Lance (Buddy) Franklin who has come out with mental health/depression issues about 2 years ago.
    There's no quick fix, but I can only imagine how I would feel were I in the shoes of someone under all that scrutiny. I think it all comes down to clicks yes, and what sells. Unfortunately. And there is no accountability. The media would be just as quick to write stories about the player's 'mental breakdown' were that to happen, without taking responsibility for a part in said story.
    Rant away - I love that photo!

    1. Hey Miss Lily,
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting and making me think more :)

      Yes, I was talking about JH. But it could be someone else next week, hey?

      Oh, that AFL example is really intriguing and yes, a complete parallel. Plus, it also made me think of a school assignment I did back in the 1980s where I used an example of a rugby union player who the media had bagged for his early years, and then glorified for his later years - and yet, to me, he'd played the same all the way through. The power of the media is quite confronting, and yes, I don't know how young guys deal with that kind of criticism so early in their careers without it affecting them.

      The AFL in Vic always seemed to have such a strangle-hold on the media when I was growing up, that I admired how much they controlled the stories that came out (well, from a NSW view anyway, but I have an SA friend who also thought this). Over the years, we've discussed that opening AFL to a national competition has meant the AFL has not been able to keep that media control, which has seen more of this 'negative' press for their game.

      So, I suppose it's not a new thing. It's just a more saturated thing because of the internet and less accountability and control.

      Thanks for your views and for prompting my extra thoughts!

      I'm glad you liked the photo! I'm useless at balancing and Mr E took visiting kids to the park a while back and came home all excited by this new 'surfboard' I had to try in the park. I think he was expecting me to break arms or legs...but I surprised us both by managing to stay up! It was hairy though :)

      Cate xoxo