An official of BasicNeeds-Ghana has emphasised the need for journalists to apply their editorial discretion in a manner that would not perpetuate stigma for people with disabilities.

Mr Fred Nantogmah, Knowledge Management and Communications Officer at BasicNeeds-Ghana, emphasised the media’s role at a workshop for journalists in the Northern Region to increase their understanding and strengthen their capacities to consider Disability and Mental Health Inclusion when reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic.

The training was also to enable the journalists to become agents of change to support the reduction of stigma around disability and mental health in the country.

The day’s workshop, held in Tamale and attended by about 35 journalists, focused on topics, including “An introduction to why disability and mental health matters matter,” and “The appropriate use of language on disability and mental health.”

Other topics included “How to improve COVID-19 media reportage on disability and mental health, how to develop ideas for compelling reporting on disability and mental health and things to consider when finding the stories and the sources on disability and mental health.”

It was organised as part of the Ghana Somubi Dwumadie (Ghana Participation Programme), a four-year initiative, being run by an Options’ led consortium, comprising BasicNeeds-Ghana, Kings College London, Sightsavers International and Tropical Health, with funding from the United Kingdom Agency for International Development (ukaid).

The Ghana Somubi Dwumadie focuses on four key areas, which includes promoting stronger policies and systems that respect the rights of people with disabilities, including people with mental health disabilities, and scaling up high quality and accessible mental health services in the country.

Other areas include reducing stigma and discrimination against people with disabilities, including mental health disabilities, and generating evidence to inform policy and practice on the effectiveness of disability and mental health programmes and interventions in the country.

Mr Nantogmah appealed to journalists to ensure that their reportage brought hope to people with disabilities, including mental health disabilities and avoid publications that would hurt them, advising that they should avoid stereotypes in their work.

Mr Mohammed Nurudeen Salifu, Communications Manager, Ghana Somubi Dwumadie, led participants through story ideas on the impact of COVID-19 on people with disabilities, including mental health disabilities and appealed to them to focus on such issues.

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