Forget the overblown, well-funded hype surrounding the Sun on Sunday, and the arrogance of Murdoch and Co sticking up two fingers to a judicial inquiry and police investigations into his papers … if there is one paper you should get tomorrow it is the Sunday Express.
No, they’re not plugging any of my books or previewing any of my projects. They are however launching a campaign to fight for better services and better understanding for the mentally ill.
It is not, to use the media parlance, a ‘sexy’ subject, and unlikely to be one troubling the Sun’s seven day sub-editors today. But it is exactly the kind of thing newspapers should be doing, not just because it is right, but because a lot of the stigma and taboo surrounding mental health comes from media reporting of it, so it will partly take media campaigns to break the stigma down.
Anyone who has read Sunday Express editor Martin Townsend’s book, The Father I Had, will know why it is a subject close to his heart. The book is a tremendous, sad but often funny, heartbreaking and heartwarming account of his childhood growing up with a manic depressive Dad.
It captures brilliantly how mental illness can cripple not just the person with the illness, but families and even communities. He wrote it in part to show what that struggle was like, but also because of his anger at the way the press, especially The Sun, covered Frank Bruno’s illness.
Precisely because he has such deep experience, I know how much Martin cares about the issue and wish him and his paper all the best with their campaign.
I also urge anyone with a story to tell – about mental health services good and bad, employers good and bad, cuts to the frontline, human interest stories, examples of discrimination against the mentally ill, to get in touch with the paper.
So there you are … I bet you never thought you’d see it here … but go out and buy the Sunday Express tomorrow.