TV advertisers should have a mental health duty of care, health chiefs demand

Broadcast advertisers should be subject to a new duty of care to protect young people’s mental health, NHS leaders have said.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is being urged to clamp down on advertisements which fuel body insecurity among teenagers.

Senior health officials are demanding a meeting with the organisation’s chief executive to discuss concerns that too many advertisements – such as those for cosmetic surgery shown during Love Island – are heaping pressures on the young.

The national mental health director for NHS England, Claire Murdoch, has written to Guy Parker, chief executive of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), questioning whether the regulator is doing enough to protect children.

The letter asks whether existing guidelines to protect children from harm are sufficiently robust.

It also urges the ASA to consider if the introduction of a broader Duty of Care for mental health should be imposed on all broadcast advertisers.

Co-signed Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner, and Professor Wendy Burn, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the letter raises the advertisement of cosmetic surgery during ITV’s Love Island.

“Not only are there clear risks associated with cosmetic surgery, but placed alongside the body image pressures that can be inherent in many online and social media interactions, adverts such as these could pose a risk to mental health,” writes Ms Murdoch, a registered mental health nurse.

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