Veterans and the Media

  • Project Summary: This project aims to assess the tone and content of media coverage of Veterans’ mental health and suicide over a multi-year period; create interventions that can help educate and inform journalists about Veterans’ mental health and suicide issues; and examine change over time in coverage, particularly any change after rolling out the interventions.
  • Principal Investigators: Robert Whitley, Douglas Research Centre, McGill University
  • Co-Investigators: Fardous Hosseiny and Gabrielle Galley, Centre of Excellence on PTSD and Related Mental Health Conditions
  • Partner: Douglas Research Centre, McGill University
  • Advisory Group: Yes

Research indicates the media has historically tended to portray mental health issues negatively. While the issue is complex, it has been shown that responsible media coverage of suicide and mental health issues can facilitate help-seeking behaviour, public empathy, and social interventions.

To bridge this gap, the Centre of Excellence on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Related Mental Health Conditions, in collaboration with the Douglas Research Centre, has launched a new study of how suicide and mental health are portrayed in the media, with a focus on Canadian Veterans.

The findings will be used to create interventions that can help raise awareness among journalists about the issues related to Veterans’ mental health and suicide.

Compelling Conversations Series – Veterans and the Media

As Canadians honoured Veterans in the week leading to Remembrance Day, the Centre of Excellence on PTSD hosted a virtual discussion on the impact of the media reporting on Veterans. “The Power of the Media: Impact on Veteran Stories” was the first Compelling Conversation – a regular series of topical public conversations about issues affecting the health and well-being of Canadian Veterans.

Attendees heard from the lived experiences and perspectives of a Veteran, Veteran Family Member, and a journalist in the lead-up to Remembrance Day.

Additional participants included Dr. Patrick Smith, CEO and Founder of the Centre of Excellence on PTSD, and Dr. Rob Whitley, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at McGill University and Research Scientist, Douglas Research Centre. The virtual panel was moderated by Graham Richardson, Chief News Anchor for CTV News at Six and afternoon news anchor on Newstalk 580 CFRA.

This project is made possible through partnership with:

douglas_rc_new_300McGill University logoSPRING: Social Psychiatry Research Interest Group logo

Tackling Harmful Stereotypes Can Promote Veterans’ Mental Health

An opinion piece, “Tackling Harmful Stereotypes Can Promote Veterans’ Mental Health,” encourages Canadians to see beyond Hollywood-inspired stereotypes of Veterans, and outlines a new research project aimed at helping journalists report about Veterans in a holistic and responsible manner, moving beyond any stereotypes to chronicle the diversity of Veterans’ experiences.

The editorial was co-authored by Dr. Rob Whitley, professor and research scientist with McGill University, and Brian McKenna, retired Warrant Officer and the Veterans Advisor for the Centre of Excellence on PTSD and Related Mental Health Conditions.