Media & Mental Health: Delivering A Duty of Care

  • Tuesday, 16 June 2020
  • The Studio, Manchester
  • 09:30 - 16:10
Expert Speakers
Sponsors & Supporters
  • Overview

This conference will assess the impact of media platforms on mental health and how media industries can deliver a legal duty of care.

Media is growing and diversifying at an incredible pace; we engage daily with 24/7 news, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, anytime streaming, podcasts and other platforms that undeniably impact our thoughts about the world and ourselves. Mental Health & Media: Delivering A Duty of Care will bring together perspectives from across platforms, mental health service providers and policy makers to assess, discuss and develop best practices for using the incredible power of the media to educate, influence and determine positive mental health outcomes. The conference programme will:

  • Compare and contrast international policy - such as Germany's NetzGD law and Article 13 of the European Union's copyright directive - with policy brought forward in the UK to regulate against harmful content on social media.
  • Learn more about the statutory duty of care recommended by the parliamentary Science and Technology committee; discuss duty of care delivery – i.e. how does advertising cosmetic surgery and appetite suppressors during programming popular with demographics vulnerable to body-image issues impact MH and neglect the duty of care?
  • How can online regulators effectively regulate for children and adults?
  • Explore how mental health service providers, the NHS and FE/HE institutes can work with the media to further destigmatize mental health and develop approaches to preventing development of MH problems like anxieties, isolation, perfectionism and presenteeism.
  • Review the relationship(s) developing between people, data and the internet of things.
  • Debate the influence of 24/7 news culture on mental health.
  • Address how ‘poverty porn’ contributes to prejudicial attitudes and the development of damaging self-images.   
  • Assess how to effectively deliver the duty of care for people employed in and involved with media production across multiple platforms.
  • Confirmed Speakers

Event Sponsors and Supporters

  • Event Programme


Registration and Coffee in the Networking Area


Chair's Opening Address


Keynote Address

Academics developed the legal duty of care through a blog series for Carnegie UK Trust that reflected a work programme exploring regulatory frameworks to reduce the harm occurring on social media platforms. Their work received widespread support from government and Shadow Ministers ahead of the publication of the 'online harms' white paper; a collaborative publication between the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Home Office, that recommends establishing a new framework of regulation for tech companies with the goal of preventing online harms.


This keynote will address the strengths and shortcomings of the online harms white paper - including:

  • The argument that such regulation as proposed in the white paper would stifle 'free speech' - does this ignore those who are already stifled by the current de-facto online rules of engagement; pre-dominantly women and public figures - for whom, the price of entry into the public digital space is often abuse.
  • How applying appropriate scrutiny to practices such as algorithmic personalised advertising, data collection, market-concentration and the engagement-at-any-cost business model can reduce the need for heavy-handed regulation of speech.    

The Oxford Internet Institute, in collaboration with the Open Rights Group and other partners, convened a one-day multi-stakeholder workshop to review the implications of the 2019 Online Harms White Paper. Representatives from human rights NGOs, academia, child rights advocates, social media organisation, independent regulators and other stakeholders gathered to share different perspectives on the government's regulatory approach to dealing with problematic online content. In an open letter to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the group stated their position on the legal duty of care:


'One unanimous finding from the day was "there is a need for a systematic approach to dealing with problematic content online, but the group did not support the adoption of a 'duty of care' approach". Many participants noted that the concept of duty of care does not translate well from the office to the online context, and as such it provides little clarity as to what duties can and should be expected of companies within scope of the OHWP.'


This presentation will address key elements of the proposals outlined in the OHWP and expand on alternative approaches to regulating against online harms.   

  • Dr Bethany Usher, Lecturer in Multimedia Journalism, Newcastle University (confirmed)
"Microcelebrity "

“Attack Journalism” is one of the longest standing press rituals of celebrification and a means by which media industries exert power. There is urgent need for press codes to acknowledge harassment through persistent publication as well as pursuit. As a journalist, I deferred to codes of regulation every day and found many in regional and national newspapers did so too. If we get codes right and better promote them to journalists through professional bodies, institutes of training, unions and legal and staff handbooks, we might create collective cultural change. The key areas for British news media is the IPSO code is “harassment” and for Ofcom is “fairness”. As the government have recently published a white paper relating to “Online Harms” (February, 2020) which recommends Ofcom has additional powers to tackle social, commercial and criminal abuses which, for example, lead to trolling, change to the latter is pressing. There is little chance of stemming abuse on social media without also tackling the mainstream press. At present, both IPSO and Ofcom address persistent pursuit as harassment or “unfair” newsgathering practices. Neither directly address abuse through persistent publication, and in this session, I will discuss the changes we need.


Headline Sponsor


Panel Discussion


Coffee in the Networking Area

  • Andy Bell, Deputy Chief Executive, Centre for Mental Health (confirmed)

This presentation will analyse how various media platforms impact our perception of mental health and influence debates around inequalities.

  • Simon Gelsthorpe, Consulting Clinical and Sport Psychologist , University of Bradford (confirmed)
"Psychologists and the Media Working Together"

This session will consist of two parts. In the first section Simon will give a brief summary of the British Psychological Society document “Psychology and Media Productions: Guidance for Commissioners and Producers” which was released in June 2019. He will also explain how the media can use the BPS to access psychologists. The second part of the session will be promote a different approach to thinking about mental wellbeing and the media which will take a constructive and emotional perspective.


Case Study

  • Noel McDermott, Chief Executive Officer, Psychotherapy and Consultancy Ltd. (confirmed)

Synopsis coming soon...


Case Study


Panel Discussion

  • Andy Bell, Deputy Chief Executive, Centre for Mental Health (confirmed)
  • Simon Gelsthorpe, Consulting Clinical and Sport Psychologist , University of Bradford (confirmed)
  • Noel McDermott, Chief Executive Officer, Psychotherapy and Consultancy Ltd. (confirmed)

Lunch in the Networking Area


Chair's Afternoon Address


Representative from The Parliamentary Science and Technology Committee

The Parliamentary Science and Technology Committee's recent report 'Impact of social media and screen use on young people's health' spotlighted the risks children face when engaging with social media. The report makes a number of recommendations as to what can be done to safeguard young people accessing social media, including;

  • Facilitating the transfer of high-level data on the 'media literacy' of children (and adults) to academic researchers in order to develop appropriate legislation.
  • Concluding that social media companies should be subject to a legal duty of care.
  • Ending the self-regulation of social media companies and introducing an independent, statutory regulator with the support of government to oversee compliance.          

Case Study


Ruth Patrick, Postdoctoral Researcher, School of Law and Social Justice, University of Liverpool (invited)

‘Poverty porn’ has become terminology for programming that exhibits some of the most vulnerable people and communities in a voyeuristic style, designed to perpetuate stereotypes of ‘scroungers’ and ‘skivers’ – furthering the political narrative against welfare claimants and social security.


The impact this stigmatisation has on the mental wellbeing of individuals and communities that identify into these social groups - or as the programming labels them, not part of the ‘hard working majority’ – is negative, denigrating and in some case, resultant in self-harm; even suicide. In researching the lived experience of poverty and welfare reform, Ruth Patrick has explored the extent of the mismatch between the popular imaging of welfare and everyday realities.


Afternoon Refreshment Break


Ella Fallows, Politics & Government Outreach - UK, Ireland & Northern Europe, Facebook (invited)

Synopsis coming soon...


Caroline Cummins, Public Affairs Advisor, BBC (invited)

Synopsis coming soon...


Panel Discussion

Representative from The Parliamentary Science and Technology Committee

Ruth Patrick, Postdoctoral Researcher, School of Law and Social Justice, University of Liverpool (invited)

Ella Fallows, Politics & Government Outreach - UK, Ireland & Northern Europe, Facebook (invited)

Caroline Cummins, Public Affairs Advisor, BBC (invited)


Chair's Closing Remarks and Event Close

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Jonathan Smith
  • Gain the maximum 6 CPD points.
  • Explore the ways in which social media networks impact mental health; compare policy solutions to managing harmful content being proposed in the UK, EU and beyond.
  • Debate the impact of growing 24/7 news culture in conjunction with the decline of local news outlets; does the dichotomy contribute to anxieties and isolate communities?
  • Review best practice for using the media’s power to educate and influence the public on mental health wellbeing issues
  • Address how programming that maligns deprived communities contributes to harmful prejudicial attitudes and mental health problems.
  • Discuss whether regulators existing obligations to collect data on the ‘media literacy’ of adults and children should be expanded to cover social media platforms; requiring companies to provide high-level data to academic researchers in order to develop appropriate legislation.
  • Explore whether mental health issues like anxiety, isolation, perfectionism and presenteeism can be compounded by particular media platforms/programming.
  • Assess how cultural changes towards body image are represented in the media.
  • Contact Details
  • Sponsors
  • Supporters
  • Venue
  • Featured Events
  • Downloads
  • Who will attend

Contact Details




The Studio, Manchester

The Studio, Manchester

Situated at the heart of the city, just a hop, skip and jump away from all major transport links: thestudiomanchester has much more than 10 vibrant spaces to offer. Whatever the legendary Manchester weather has to throw at you, you’ll always find the warmest of welcomes at thestudio.

Featured Events

  • Safeguarding Students: Addressing Mental Health Needs

    • 26 November 2019
    • 08:30 - 16:25
    • The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
  • Improving Student Mental Health Outcomes

    • 16 May 2019
    • 10:00 - 16:05
    • Mary Ward House Conference & Exhibition Centre, London
  • Children and Young People's Mental Health: From Early Intervention to Improved Services

    • 12 February 2019
    • 08:25 - 15:45
    • Mary Ward House Conference & Exhibition Centre, London

Downloads & Resources

  • Open Forum Events Sponsorship Brochure
    Open Forum Events offer a number of partnership, sponsorship and exhibition opportunities that can meet your marketing and business development needs.

who will attend

  • Business Development Managers
  • Business Engagement Managers
  • Content Producers
  • Digital Journalists
  • Digital Strategy Leads
  • Directors/Heads of Human Resources and Organisational Transformation
  • Directors/Heads of Digital Inclusion & Engagement
  • Directors/Heads of Policy/Strategy
  • Editors
  • Heads of Communications
  • Heads of Wellbeing and Welfare
  • Information Officers
  • Legal Practitioners/Advisers 
  • Mental Health Advisers
  • Mental Health and Wellbeing Managers
  • Mental Health Mentors
  • Mental Health Support Workers
  • Mental Wellbeing Service Directors
  • Online Content Producers
  • Online Content Editors/Directors
  • Placement Coordinators
  • Print Journalists
  • Programmers
  • Policy Advisers
  • Public Engagement Directors/Managers 
  • Quality Improvement Managers
  • Regional Directors
  • Staff Welfare Officers
  • Support & Compliance Managers