The Irish Times wins two awards for coverage of mental health

Jennifer O’Connell takes award for feature dealing with ‘untold tales of pregnancy loss’

The Irish Times claimed the top prize in two categories at the 2020 Headline Mental Health Media Awards on Wednesday – which recognise excellence in the coverage of mental health issues.

Jennifer O'Connell took the award – in a ceremony hosted by Anton Savage and held via Zoom due to Covid-19 – in the "National Print/ Online" category for a piece headlined: 'I blamed myself for not wanting it enough' – Untold tales of pregnancy loss. The section was for a single news report or feature "that deals with stories, topics or issues related to mental ill health".

The Irish Times also took the Voice Media Award which was for a publisher, in print or online, or broadcaster, "who has demonstrated excellence in the quality and quantity of coverage given to people with self-experience of mental ill health". Alongside the Editor of The Irish Times Paul O'Neill in the category – which was in partnership with See Change – were Laura Byrne (The Journal) and Amanda Casssidy (Image Magazine).

Among the nominees in the "Special Recognition Award" – for an individual with lived experience of mental ill health and who, in their own words, shares their story to help and educate a wider audience – was Bronagh Loughlin, who had written in The Irish Times about topics such as not allowing ill-health to define a person, anxiety during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the darkness of having mental health issues. The category was won by Sheila Naughton for The Road to Recovery interview on RTE Radio 1.


Health and Family Editor in The Irish Times, Damian Cullen, was nominated for the Headline Impact Award, which was "for an individual working in any platform who has made an exceptional contribution to coverage of mental ill health". The winner was Maurice Gubbins, Editor of Echo Live, Cork.

Headline is Ireland’s national media programme for responsible reporting, and representation of mental ill health and suicide.

Nominees and winners of each category

Mental Health Content | Digital
Winner: Pantisocracy with Panti Bliss, Rory O'Neill/Panti Bliss for RTÉ Radio 1.
Other nominees: It All Works Out Podcast, Ciara O'Connor for A Lust for Life; Grief Encounters, Ian Doyle for Urban Media; You OK?: Switching off our fight or flight response, Jan Ní Fhlanagáin for RTÉ; Letters From Lockdown: Dear Dee, Shauna McGreevy and Kenny Mac Giolla Phádraig for RTÉ.

Mental Health Journalism | Local Print/Online
Winner: Importance of being Jamie, Owen Ryan for Clare Champion.
Other nominees: Johanne's battle for a 10-year plan to save carers from overwhelming load, David Looby for New Ross Standard; Mental Health Issues 'Central' to Addiction, Ann Murphy for The Echo; Being there can be all someone needs, Siobhán Holliman for Tuam Herald; It's time to talk about maternal mental health, Emma Connolly for The Echo.

Mental Health Broadcasting | Short Form
Winner: Nationwide: Kinvara Alive
, Marian Malone and Matt Kelly for RTÉ.
Other nominees: Who's Listening? (Episode 5), Fionnuala Corbett for iRadio; Men's Health Focus on Northern Sound: Mental Health, Aaron McElroy for Northern Sound FM; RTÉ Prime Time: In harm's way, Isabel Perceval and Eithne O'Brien for RTÉ; Interview with the Travelling Community, Alan Corcoran for South East Radio.

Special Recognition
Winner: Sheila Naughton
, The Road to Recovery interview on RTE Radio 1
Other nominees: Professor Kevin Sludds, interview on South-East Radio's Morning Mix - Wednesday 9th September 2020; Mental Illness and Coronavirus, Jess McCaul on; Bronagh Loughlin, 'I have mental health issues, but they don't define me', IrishTimes; Aaron Hughes, Clones man urges others to look after mental health, Northern Sound FM.

Mental Health Content | Special Interest
Winner: Speak or Survive: Does Ireland Write Off Survivors of Sexual Violence, Peter McGuire for
Other nominees: I don't know how you're even still alive' - The ex-Ireland international who lived a nightmare, Paul Fennessy, for; It's time to speak out: men suffer from eating disorders too, Neil Fox for Irish Independent; Life under lockdown as a mum to kids with autism, Kathy Donaghy for Irish Independent; Hooked on painkillers: farming's hidden addiction, Kathleen O'Sullivan for Irish Independent.

Mental Health Broadcasting | Long Form
Winner: The Unteachables, Kim Bartley and Aoife Kavanagh on RTÉ
Other nominees: The Guards: Inside the K, Shauna Keogh on Virgin Media Television; All About Autism, Kayte O'Malley on iRadio; The Truth About Eating Disorders, Michelle Heffernan on Beat 102-103; Laochra Gael - Diarmuid Lyng, Irial Ma Murchú on TG4.

Headline Student Journalist Award
Winner: Hooked on painkillers: farming's hidden addiction, Kathleen O'Sullivan, University of Limerick.
Other nominees: The Head, Heart and Soul of Dublin City, Colette Wrafter, IADT; FactCheck: Is this widespread claim about the recent number of deaths by suicide in Ireland true? Lauren Boland, Trinity College Dublin; Accidental Activist, Colm McSherry, NUI Galway; The challenges of facing the weight on the bar, Sam Cox | @tcddublin.

Mental Health Journalism | National Print/Online
Winner: "There's no deadline for healing", Jennifer O'Connell for The Irish Times.
Other nominees: The forgotten children: growing up in the shadows of mental illness, Emily Hourican for Irish Independent; FactCheck: Is this widespread claim about the recent number of deaths by suicide in Ireland true?, Lauren Boland for; My battles with the final taboo of motherhood, Lisa Brady for Irish Daily Mail; Central Mental Hospital: 'We tolerate a system that no other country would', Cormac O'Keeffe for Irish Examiner.

Headline Voice Media Award in partnership with See Change
Winner: Paul O'Neill, Irish Times.
Other nominees: Laura Byrne,; Amanda Cassidy, Image Magazine.

Headline Impact Award
Winner: Maurice Gubbins, Editor, Echo Live Cork.
Other nominees: Lochlann Scott, The HelpLink Show; Damian Cullen, Health & Family Editor, Irish Times; Jan Ní Fhlanagáin, 'You Ok?' podcast, RTE; Ciara O' Connor, 'It All Works Out' podcast, A Lust for Life.