Word crackdown

Staff Writer

Headspace, the national youth mental health foundation are wanting tougher codes to stop radio, TV and print from using mental illness as a derogatory term.

The Sunday Age has reported that headspace boss Chris Tanti has said…

"…that while it was no longer considered appropriate to use the words ''retarded'' or ''gay'' as pejorative terms, it is still deemed acceptable to accuse public figures of being ''nuts'', ''bonkers'' or ''crazy."

But beyondblue CEO Kate Carnell warned against imposing the ''word police"…

''You can end up having a debate about whether you should call a cartoon channel Looney Tunes or not and that would just not be a productive debate,'' she said.

Mr Tanti said this type of language made it more difficult for young people battling conditions such as anxiety and depression.

He also said headspace was not seeking a ban on specific words but that gratuitous and unnecessary mental health-related language should not be tolerated.

''The common use of 'schizophrenia' in the media is completely wrong. They often refer to it as someone who's in two minds, whereas the illness is a completely different thing. I wonder what the person who experiences these problems thinks when they hear this sort of language going unchecked? It's hurtful and it's completely unnecessary.''

CRA's guidelines state terms such as ''nutcase'', ''psycho'' and ''lunatic asylum'' should be avoided as they may perpetuate discrimination against the mentally ill.

Mr Tanti wants these guidelines to become an enforceable code of practice, meaning a radio station would face sanctions for any breach.

See the full story in The Age here

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