Eating disorders are often misunderstood and underestimated in our society, resulting in the use of inaccurate reporting and language with a potentially negative impact.
In collaboration with Mindframe and Australian media professionals, the NEDC has developed a resource to provide practical advice for journalists, editors and other media professionals to guide best-practice reporting and portrayal of eating disorders.
Mindframe National Media Initiative
The Australian Government’s Mindframe National Media Initiative aims to encourage responsible, accurate and sensitive representation of mental illness and suicide in the Australian mass media. Mindframe provides access to up-to-date, evidence-based information to support the reporting, portrayal and communication of suicide and mental illness.
Although this resource is targeted at media professionals, key messages can help guide teachers, government representatives, non-government organisations and those in the education, health, sport, fitness, beauty and fashion industries to implement appropriate communication campaigns and programs using evidence-based guidelines.
For more information relating to mental illness, visit the Mindframe website.
The Role of Media
The media in Australia plays an important role in communicating about eating disorders and promoting positive body image.
However, communication from the media is not consistent and depending on the media outlet, information may vary significantly.
Some media channels can promote supportive and helpful advice for raising awareness of eating disorders, while others may negatively reinforce ideas of body image or ‘at risk’ behaviours in vulnerable audiences.
At present, the best resource for journalists and editors is the Mindframe Guide to the Reporting and Portrayal of Eating Disorders
Fashion & Beauty Journalism
The Mindframe Initiative contains relevant information for those working in fashion and beauty journalism. However, the fashion and beauty industry needs to progress further and develop its own evidence-based, targeted communications strategies.
Indeed, advertising and fashion magazines are linked to the fashion industry in their communication approaches. Given the importance of their influence when it comes to body image, it is vital all sectors work together to help promote and support the communication of body positive messages and raise awareness of eating disorders in the media.
For more information on communicating about eating disorders download the NEDC Communications Strategic Framework.
How do I play a role?
The media has an important role to play in influencing social attitudes towards and perceptions of eating disorders and mental illness. However, so do many others in society, from teachers to sport and fitness professionals via fashion designers.
Everyone can play a role in preventing the development of eating disorders and supporting treatment and recovery by being informed and helping to raise awareness by sharing appropriate messages with your specific audiences.
Preventing Eating Disorders
Best practice communication and targeted programs are key to helping prevent the development of eating disorders and reduce stigma and ignorance. Find out more about primary prevention, secondary prevention, prevention programs and media literacy.
Effective communication serves to influence social norms, beliefs and behaviours, and is key to bringing about change.
Do No Harm
Care must be taken in promoting information about eating disorders in order to ensure positive outcomes, rather than accidental harm. Research indicates that without due caution, highlighting the symptoms or effects of eating disorders may increase the prevalence of the disorder.