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Introduction


Welcome to the Mindframe for courts website, which provides a valuable resource for those working in the courts who have any involvement with media reporting or portrayal of suicide and mental illness. The online resource aims to support judicial officers and other officers of the courts to communicate effectively with the media, to help ensure that the quality of reporting and portrayal of both suicide and mental illness is sensitive and responsible.

 
The resource was also developed with the assistance of court professionals, media professionals, academics, suicide and mental health experts and consumer organisations, to inform appropriate reporting of suicide and mental illness, minimise harm and copycat behaviour, and reduce the stigma and discrimination experienced by people with mental illness.

 

Background 


Australian research has indicated that courts are a major source of information for most news organisations. Courts are a valuable source of information for the media about incidents and cases where mental illness or suicide may be raised. In fact, having mental illness raised in court may make a particular case more ‘newsworthy’. Similarly, suicide deaths that result in a coronial inquiry may be of more interest to journalists, due to speculation about the cause of death or possible breaches in duty of care.

While magistrates, coroners and other members of the court rarely talk directly to the media, courts remain a major source of information for journalists. Along with police stations, the courts are routine sites for gathering news, and media organisations invest considerable resources in this type of journalism. Court proceedings are scheduled, so they become part of the regular news diary. Courts and court information is easily accessed by editors and journalists, it can be planned for and predicted, and is efficiently and effectively monitored.

 

About the project


This website and accompanying print resource Mental Illness and Suicide in the Media: A Mindframe Resource for Courts, provides practical advice and information for judges, magistrates, coroners, media liaison officers and other court staff to support their work with the Australian media. This may be through indirect means, such as statements and remarks made in court, or directly through comments or information provided to the media.

These resources have been developed as part of Mindframe for police and courts, which belongs to a suite of projects on suicide, mental illness and the media developed as part of the Mindframe National Media Initiative. 

The resources have been developed following consultations with courts in each state and territory. Mindframe for police and courts is supported by the peak media bodies, suicide prevention and mental health organisations. The project aims to build the capacity of law enforcement professionals and services to promote sensitive and appropriate reporting by ensuring that they have:

  • Appropriate, sector consistent guidance on providing information on suicide, mental health and mental illness to media professionals;
  • An understanding of the potential impact of media reporting of mental illness and suicide, based on research evidence;
  • Strategies to respond to positive and negative reporting of suicide, mental health and mental illness. 
  • Access to relevant reference material including:   

- Key issues to consider when talking to the media about suicide or mental illness;

- Facts and statistics about mental illness and suicide;

- Contact details for sources of research and statistics; and

- Contact details for helplines and services.

This information can be explored using the navigation pane at the left-hand side of this page.

 

Obtaining resources


Downloadable PDF copies of the full Mental Illness and Suicide in the Media resource booklet are available from the Downloads page.

For more information about Mindframe for courts or to order copies of the resources please contact the project team.

 

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