Be responsible and ethical to end discrimination – Media told

Mr Sylvester Basagnia, the Upper West Regional Coordinator of the Mental Health Authority, has appealed to the media to remain responsible and ethical to help end discrimination in all forms.

He said the media must desist from using terms that were not dignifying to a particular group of people in their reportage as that could further perpetuate discrimination and stigma against that group.

‘The media should be able to use terms that are dignifying. ‘If you tag someone as, let’s say a mad person, an imbecile, this is an insane person, these are negative terms that tend to stereotype’, Mr Basagnia explained.

He made the appeal in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Wa in relation to the ‘Zero Discrimination Day’, marked on 1st March on the theme: ‘To Protect Everyone’s Health, Protect Everyone’s Rights’.

He said the day was a laudable global call for all well-meaning persons in society to come together as advocates to speak out against discrimination against persons based on their social or he
alth conditions.

Mr Basagnia indicated that the media should use positive disability language in describing persons with mental illness and be ambassadors to advocate the rights of every person irrespective of his or her disability status.

‘Sometimes on TV shows or other media role, plays what they use to show that someone is mentally fiddled is someone in tattered clothes or someone behaving haphazardly,’ he observed, and said that portrayal was a basis for stigma, discrimination, and stereotype.

The Regional Mental Health Coordinator said ignorance and lack of information on mental health issues for instance were some of the key drivers of stigma and discrimination against persons with mental illness.

He, therefore, charged the media to take up the responsibility of educating the public on conditions such as HIV or mental illness that predispose a person to discrimination and stigma.

‘Through discrimination, people are ostracised, they are made less of a human being that self-importance is low, and the
y face a whole lot of isolation and that affects their human rights and dignity,’ Mr Basagnia stated.

He said social inclusion was essential for the elimination of stigma and discrimination against persons with mental illness.

Source: Ghana News Agency