Increase in the use of stigmatising language in Irish media

There has been a large spike in the stigmatising language being used by the Irish media in the last month. That’s according to Headline, our sister project at Shine, and Ireland’s national programme for responsible reporting and representation of mental health. 

Headline found that 44% of stigmatising language use since 24th February is related to Vladimir Putin and the Russia-Ukraine conflict. 

This chart shows the difference between the stigmatising language used in the media during Q1 2022 compared to the same period last year:


See Change would like to remind all media and journalists that the media guidelines for responsible reporting state that the media should not use stigmatising or sensational language that could be harmful for audiences with mental health difficulties. 

This includes words like: 

Some examples of recent headlines that have included stigmatising language this year include: 

Although the use of words like ‘crazy’, ‘nuts’ or ‘psycho’ may seem trivial and innocent, they are the building blocks of mental health stigma and may lead someone to conceal their difficulty.   

By changing the language that we use about mental health, we can create a bridge to understand and help others.   

To find out more about mental health stigma and discrimination, download our guides here:  

To learn more about responsible reporting, check out Headline’s website:

Headline also run the Mental Health Media Awards which recognise excellence in media coverage of mental health issues:

Additionally, Headline offers training on how to responsibly report on mental health difficulties and/or illnesses. 

You can also read about our See Change Ambassador’s experience of stigma and words here. 

Contact Headline:


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