STATEMENT: GMB, LISTEN TO US
In light of Piers Morgan’s recent interview with Danny Bowman broadcast on 1st May 2019, we believe that this coverage by Good Morning Britain (GMB) on young people’s mental health could have potentially breached Ofcom’s broadcasting code. We believe that this coverage, especially Mr Morgan’s comments, have neither been fair nor accurate. Given his influential platform of GMB’s daytime television slot, we feel that his undue prominence of views has irresponsibly confused audiences about the reality of our public health crisis. Furthermore, we feel that Mr Morgan’s rhetoric and Good Morning Britain’s repeated failure to address this adequately have harmed young people struggling with mental illness.
To address this, we have called for Good Morning Britain to have us, the very young people affected by this crisis, respectfully heard on the show. We would like to thank all those who have written to ITV, encouraging this to happen. Unfortunately, the Editor Neil Thompson, Piers Morgan and all those involved in the production of Good Morning Britain have remained silent as to whether they will let young people on their show. Rather than responding to our requests, Mr Morgan has instead used his Twitter to describe high-profile mental health advocates as ‘professional victims’.
We are particularly concerned about the following:
1. Piers Morgan’s insinuation that an increase in suicide rates among young people is due to more discussion about mental health taking place.
2. Piers Morgan’s response that, in order to address this crisis, young people need to be taught to ‘toughen up’
Raising visibility on suicide and mental health in a constructive way is not why our generation is enduring a mental health and suicide crisis. Nor does it encourage young people to think in that ‘mindset’. We agree with Mr Morgan that teaching resilience is very important. However, mental health campaigners have long promoted and advocated for resilience and wellbeing to be taught in schools. It would be misleading to suggest that this is not already happening in many schools. Mr Morgan’s poor choice of words such as to ‘toughen up’, along with his previous comments to ‘man up’, is problematic. Such rhetoric often stops young men in particular from opening up about their mental health problems/suicidal thoughts.
ItMatters is a national grassroots organisation of young people, using the creative media to address mental health. We came into being after a suicide awareness film, made by a team of young creatives, went viral last May and saved lives. Given the urgency of the matter, we hope that GMB will confirm whether young people will have the right to respond on their show. Failing this, we will be taking further action. As young people, we are tired of the media misrepresenting our generation.
Mr Morgan is right in saying that the narrative around mental health needs to change and perhaps we should start by addressing his.