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Reporter praised for her writing on mental health

Archant Norfolk reporter Lousia Kennard rubbed shoulders with stars of the small screen after she was shortlisted for a national award.

The Mental Health Media Awards, held at the British Academy of Film, Television and Arts, have been running for 13 years, but this year was the first time a category for print media had been created.

And Louisa’s article, Abuse Agony at the Heart of Identity Disorder, was one of just four pieces considered for the award, with the other three all coming from national publications.

She wrote the story while she was working at the Beccles & Bungay Journal, and focused on the life of Beccles library’s assistant manager Melanie Goodwin, who was diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder 11 years ago, after years of sexual abuse as a child.

She has since lived and coped with 30 different identities, as the illness represses traumatic memories in a form of amnesia.

  • Louisa (right) with Melanie Goodwin
  • The aim of the feature was to raise a voice for the subject, which is often misunderstood and stigmatised, and to highlight Melanie’s role as chairman of First Person Plural, the UK Survivor-led association for dissociative survivors of abuse and trauma.

    Louisa attended the awards evening with Melanie, group weeklies editor Terry Redhead, and Russell Cook, editor of the Lowestoft Journal, where Louisa now works.

    Although the team lost out to Prozac Nation, a feature written for the Independent On Sunday, Louisa said she was delighted to have got so far.

    She said: “It’s a proud moment in my career and I think it’s fantastic that a small publication like the Beccles & Bungay was able to take a subject like DID to a national arena and have it discussed by some leading professionals in mental health and the media.”

    The keynote speaker for the night was former spin-doctor Alistair Campbell and judges included Paul Abbot, writer of Clocking off and Shameless, and soap critic Tina Baker.

    Other awards winners included EastEnders and BBC drama, The Street.