The media play a powerful role in our culture. Stories the media bring us often allow us to transcend our world and gain new insights, understanding, and compassion for others through new perspectives.
Every day people are influenced by what they see, read, and hear. Media have the ability to educate and inform us about real people, real-life encounters, real challenges, and how people have overcome great odds to heal or achieve what seemed unreachable. Unfortunately, the media also have the ability to perpetuate misperceptions and prejudice.
The mental health community has an important responsibility to work with the media to more accurately portray individuals with mental health problems and related social and economic issues that impact mental health recovery in America. This responsibility includes addressing misconceptions perpetuated by the media, and also acknowledging the media’s positive messages that promote respect, acceptance, and the dignity of difference. By exploring the impact of the media and providing strategies individuals and organizations can use with the media to promote accurate depictions of people with mental health problems, we hope to positively influence public perceptions of mental health and recovery.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) ADS Center works to increase awareness and support implementation and replication of socially inclusive practices, programs, and policies in communities throughout the country. In this e-resource update, we offer a range of resources available on the ADS Center Web site to encourage media outlets to change their language and transform portrayals of mental health issues while encouraging communities to change their perceptions about mental health. The following resources and programs are a few of the many media-related resources found on the SAMHSA ADS Center Web site, http://promoteacceptance.samhsa.gov.
- Watch the 2013 SAMHSA Voice Awards LIVE Webcast on Wednesday, September 25, beginning at 6 p.m. Pacific time at http://www.samhsa.gov/VoiceAwards/index.asp. Join SAMHSA and its Voice Awards program partners in recognizing consumer/peer leaders in recovery from mental and/or substance use problems, as well as television and film professionals, for their collective efforts to educate the public about the real experiences of people with behavioral health challenges.
- Read about the new guidelines for journalists developed by the Associated Press to help address how journalists handle questions of mental illness in their coverage. To learn more about the guidelines, see “Entry on mental illness is added to AP Stylebook” at the Books, Articles and Research section of the ADS Center’s Web site, within the Information by Topic: Media section, at http://promoteacceptance.samhsa.gov/topic/media/books.aspx.
- Learn strategies for engaging the media by utilizing How to Use the Media to Fight Stigma and Discrimination (National Mental Health Consumers' Self-Help Clearinghouse), available in both English and Spanish. These guides can be accessed in the Take Action section on the ADS Center Web site at http://promoteacceptance.samhsa.gov/action/default.aspx.
- Listen to our March 2010 teleconference The Power of the Media and Its Impact on Mental Health Recovery to learn about the impact, both positive and negative, that the media have on perceptions of mental health problems; learn about a successful, SAMHSA-funded initiative in Washington State that helped journalists to change their language and portrayals of mental health issues; and learn how to engage with local, State, and national news and entertainment media. This teleconference, with closed-captioning added, is available on our Web site at http://promoteacceptance.samhsa.gov/teleconferences/archive/training/teleconference03262010.aspx.
Learn more at our Web site, http://promoteacceptance.samhsa.gov, about the role of the media and other topics related to mental health and wellness.
We hope our e-resource update will spark your interest and inspire you to take part in these efforts to change the way mental health is discussed in the media.
We invite you to share this update with others who may be interested and to encourage them to join the ADS Center listserv by visiting http://promoteacceptance.samhsa.gov/main/listserve.aspx.
SAMHSA Resource Center to Promote Acceptance, Dignity and Social Inclusion
Associated with Mental Health