Former West Bengal governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi appealed to the media to be careful while writing on the issue of mental health

The first edition of awards for print media instituted by the Schizophrenia Research Foundation (Scarf) and the Press Institute of India brought together journalists from Kashmir, Kerala and New Delhi on Tuesday.

Two journalists from regional media and three from the English language press were recognised for excellence in mental health reporting. The 'Media for Mental Health' award included a citation and cash. Director of Scarf, R. Thara, said there were 25 entries from across the country.

When Srinagar-based correspondent Pervez Majeed Lone wrote about the mental health of women in Kashmir for Sahara Times, he found that ‘a holistic, scientific method’ of treatment was lacking. “In the 25-year war, many mothers have lost their sons. I am glad that Scarf took up an apolitical issue like mental health,” Pervez said after receiving the second prize in the English language print category for his article.

According to Jaya Shreedhar, chairperson of the awards committee, Pervez’s article included statistics that established the scale of the issue.

Hamza Alungal, a sub-editor at Siraj Daily, Calicut, wrote a series on the state of mental health institutions in Kerala.

“I selected three centres in Trivandrum, Kozhikode and Thrissur. There is a shortage of nurses and even those employed in these centres do not have enough knowledge to provide care,” he said. Hamza won the first prize in the local language category.

When Gunjan Sharma of The Week could not gain entry into a mental health institution in West Bengal, she faked her identity.

“Sometimes, I barged in posing as an NGO worker or as the daughter of a psychiatric patient,” she said. Gunjan won the first prize for her work in the English language category.

Ranjith Chathoth, sub-editor at Mathrubhumi, and P.B. Jayakar, a business journalist from Business Standard, were the other winners.

Former West Bengal governor, Gopal Krishna Gandhi, who gave away the prizes, said in his presidential address that the mysteries of brain development were yet unknown. “Mindfulness about the play of mind is lacking,” he said.

He appealed to the media to be careful while writing on the sensitive issue of mental health. With language constantly evolving, slangs that were acceptable in one generation were shunned in the next, he said.

Words like ‘leper’ that were used by those belonging to a previous generation without ‘ill-intent’ would not be used now, he said.

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