SANE Australia tells us that the Advertising Standards Board (ASB) has uphelding complaints about portrayals of mental illness in advertising as discriminatory and stigmatising.
Two advertisers made light of mental illness to promote their products and both have been found in breach of section 2.1 of the AANA Code of Ethics for discriminating on the basis of disability.
The Board found that a Rivers clothing catalogue featuring bipolar disorder, made fun of the ‘mood changes’ associated with this illness and that two youi Insurance television commercials depicting ‘compulsive behaviour’ were disrespectful to people with obsessive compulsive disorder.
Rivers have confirmed that the advertisement will not be published again, whilst youi apologised and agreed to modify its advertisements to remove any elements that may cause offence.
SANE Australia’s Executive Director Barbara Hocking says of the decision: “To have an independent regulatory body recognise that the wording used in these advertisements is discriminatory is a great result. Living with a mental illness can be difficult enough, and it is made worse by ads ridiculing and trivialising their condition.”
“The impact can also be very damaging to the wider community; it sends the message that mental illness is something to be laughed at, which contributes to people not seeking help due to concern over others’ reactions,” Barbara said.
SANE Australia’s community web-based StigmaWatch program advocates for respectful media portrayal of mental illness and suicide by voicing community feedback on inaccurate and insensitive reports.
“Through the StigmaWatch program, SANE frequently receives reports about hurtful media portrayals that mock, vilify or misrepresent people with a mental illness and this can play a large role in influencing public attitudes,” Barbara Hocking said.
“We received a strong response to both advertisements in question and we congratulate the people who wrote to the ASB and StigmaWatch with their concerns.”
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