Media & Mental Health: Delivering A Duty of Care

  • Thursday, 05 December 2019
  • Central 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?
  • Contribute to constructive discussions around the government's online harms white paper and next steps.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Discuss the importance of local news in keeping community networks connected and what can be done to sustain the industry.
  • Confirmed Speakers

Event Sponsors and Supporters

  • Event Programme


Registration and Coffee in the Networking Area


Chair's Opening Address

Catherine Miller, Director of Policy, Doteveryone (invited)


Keynote Address

Speaker TBC

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.  

This keynote address will set out the legislative path to establishing a legal duty of care to users of social media.          


Speaker TBC

Professor Lorna Woods and William Perrin 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.    

Main Sponsor


Kevin Bakhurst, Group Director - Content and Media Policy, Ofcom (invited)

Freedom of interference from regulators has been one of the foundation stones of online activity. However, the unprecedented pace of growth - particularly of social media - has created an online environment where, according to research conducted by Ofcom and the International Commissioner's Office, four out of every five adult internet users have safety concerns about going online. 


Ofcom does not believe transposing traditional broadcasting regulation to the online space is the right move; as the volume of content, partisan nature of the online experience and 24/7 accessibility present new challenges for regulators. This keynote will address:

  • What can be learnt from the experience of European legislators/regulators and their approach to regulation - such as Germany's strict Network Enforcement Act (NetzDG) and article 13 of the EU's copyright directive.
  • How can effective regulation promote freedom of speech as opposed to stifling it?
  • Ensuring regulatory credibility by remaining independent of political or commercial interference.       

Panel Discussion

Speaker TBC

Speaker TBC

Kevin Bakhurst, Group Director - Content and Media Policy, Ofcom (invited)


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.


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.


Case Study

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

Synopsis coming soon...


Paul Bainsfair, Director General, The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (invited)

Synopsis coming soon...


Panel Discussion

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

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

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

Paul Bainsfair, Director General, The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (invited)


Lunch in the Networking Area


Chair's Afternoon Address


Representative from The Telegraph Editorial Board (invited)

The British press has a robust relationship with mental health wellbeing. The manner in which MH has been portrayed is changing - but is the press' approach to safeguarding MH on the same journey?


The Telegraph championed the Duty of Care campaign to lobby for stronger regulation of social media to protect young people from harmful online influences; calling for flexible, future-proof legislation that cannot be overtaken by events - as is the nature of social media - with legal action enforceable against non-compliant companies by a government-backed regulator.       


Representative from Facebook (invited)

Synopsis coming soon...


Case Study


Representative from BBC's Local Democracy Reporting Service (invited)

The pervasive presence of 24/7 news coverage sensationalising negative information and inundating consumers with war, terrorism, cultural tensions, poverty and global political uncertainty creates a sense of individual anxiety and personal vulnerability. Is the decline of local news outlets excluding communities from issues that they can engage with? Does 24/7 global news culture compound isolation and the feeling of vulnerability? As the shortage of operational local news outlets drives people towards unreliable, non-localised media and unregulated sources of information on the internet.


The Local Democracy Reporting Service is a BBC-funded public service news agency that has allocated 144 reporters to local media organisations in England, Scotland and Wales in order to provide impartial coverage of the regular business and workings of councils, mayoralties, combined authority areas and other local democratic institutions.


Panel Discussion

Representative from The Telegraph's Editorial Board (invited)

Representative from BBC's Local Democracy Reporting Service (invited)

Representative from Facebook (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




Central Manchester

Central Manchester


Featured Events

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  • 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

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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