Press Releases/Statement

平機會舉辦精神健康研討會 促進媒體平衡報道 消除歧視和偏見 (2023-09-28)



EOC Hosts Seminar to Foster Bias-free Coverage of Mental Health Issues in Media


The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) today (28 September 2023) hosted the Seminar on Media Reporting of Mental Health Issues with support from the Advisory Committee on Mental Health and the Hong Kong News Executives’ Association. Organised in response to increased media and public attention on mental health, the event at the Duke of Windsor Social Service Building brought together over 100 frontline journalists, editors, academics, health professionals, persons with mental health needs and service providers of social support services for people with mental health needs to explore ways of fostering bias-free coverage of mental health issues in local media.


The seminar featured presentations by academics in the field of mental health and media, including Prof Linda LAM Chiu-wa, Professor (Clinical), Department of Psychiatry of The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prof Raymond LI, Department Head, School of Communication of the Hong Kong Baptist University, and Dr Ferrick CHU Chung-man, Executive Director (Operations) at the EOC. They were joined by Dr Quinton CHAN Yuk-kuen, Member of Executive Committee of Hong Kong Press Council and part-time Senior Lecturer, Department of Journalism and Communication of Hong Kong Shue Yan University during the subsequent panel discussion, which provided a multi-disciplinary perspective on the pitfalls and challenges in accurately reporting on mental health needs, while also offering a framework of best practices for journalists and media professionals. In addition, Ms Barbara TONG and Ms Lily CHAN, Members of the Advisory Committee on Mental Health shared their views from the perspectives of persons with mental health needs and their carers, highlighting the impact of media portrayals on persons with and recovering from mental illness.


Speaking at the event, Mr Gary WONG Chi-him JP, Convenor of the Community Participation and Publicity Committee of the EOC said, “Between 2001 and 2020, the number of persons with mental health needs in Hong Kong increased fourfold from around 50 000 to over 250 000. Despite the fast-growing trend, the public’s understanding of mental health needs remains insufficient. Accordingly, there is dire urgency to enhance understanding and awareness of such issues. The EOC believes that the media has an important role to play in turning the tide against the stigmatisation of persons with mental health needs and promote a positive and accurate understanding of mental health to the public, given that media reporting is the key source of information on mental health needs.”


Prof Linda LAM Chiu-wa, who is also representing the Advisory Committee on Mental Health, said, “Mental health problems are common and may affect any of us anytime. It is never a small issue of other people. Media is key in fostering mental health literacy, dropping biases and stigma.”


Ms Olga WONG, Executive Committee Member of Hong Kong News Executives’ Association said, “Reporting on mental health issues has become more challenging as the needs from the community continues to surge. Strengthening dialogue among experts and different sectors of society will benefit everyone. Media reporting can be a double-edged sword. While news coverage with insufficient care would exacerbate negative experiences for persons with mental health needs and their carers, professional reporting can reduce prejudice against patients and enable the government to serve them better.”


Earlier this year, the EOC published a report on the perceptions of stigmatisation and discrimination of persons with mental health needs in the workplace. The study found that the majority of employed persons (81.7%) and persons with mental health needs (78.5%) felt that discrimination against persons with mental health needs to be very prevalent or quite prevalent. The common stigmatisation towards persons with mental health needs, as reported by the employed persons, was that they were worried that the former would harm others (55.7%). They would try to keep a distance from persons with mental health needs (46.5%) and were afraid of being alone with them (43.4%). The stigmatisation has a direct impact on the employment opportunities of persons with mental health needs, who were “having fewer opportunities for promotion” (71.3%) and “not hired because of mental illness” (68.3%) according to the study.


At the panel discussion, the speakers explored useful tips to help media professionals deliver accurate and positive coverage of mental health issues. The resultant discussion covered a wide range of best practices, including guidelines on determining the relevance of mental health to news stories, ways to avoid perpetuating negative stereotypes and biases, and selecting appropriate visual materials for mental health-related stories. Building on the insights from the seminar, the EOC will continue to work with relevant stakeholders to eliminate the stigmatisation of persons with mental health needs and ensure their full and equal participation in society.


Speeches and presentations delivered during the seminar are now available on the EOC’s website (



Equal Opportunities Commission

28 September 2023




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