End Stigma: For the Media

Opinions are shaped by what we read in newspapers and on the Internet, what we hear on the radio, and what we see on television and in the movies. In a survey by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, respondents indicated that their primary source of knowledge about mental illness was the mass media. But these images rarely are accurate. In actuality, studies have shown that only a minuscule percentage of the violence in American society can be attributed to people who have mental illnesses.

WUMH Media GuideCover of Media Guide

Wisconsin United for Mental Health has released the 2nd edition of its Media Guide: "Open Minds Open Doors: A Guide for the Media."  The Guide, which won the Mental Health America 2009 Media Award, clarifies and simplifies the essentials of reporting on mental illnesses and suicide.  Inside you can find clear explanations of stigma's impact on society, concise guidelines for reporting on mental health issues, and an extensive list of state and national mental health resources and contacts.

The Guide offers a great way to bring media and mental health advocates together to discuss mental health stigma and discrimination and their impact on our communities.  If you are aware of any opportunities for WUMH to provide a copy of the Guide to key media persons, please contact the Wisconsin Women's Health Foundation at 608-251-1675.  Or you can download the Guide:

About Stigma and FAQs

Reporting Tips

Example Articles

Wisconsin Statistics

Resources, Glossary, and References


Additional Resources and Guides

Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide

  • More than 50 research studies worldwide have found that certain types of news coverage can increase the likelihood of suicide in vulnerable individuals. The magnitude of the increase is related to the amount, duration and prominence of coverage.
  • Risk of additional suicides increases when the story explicitly describes the suicide method, uses dramatic/
    graphic headlines or images, and repeated/extensive coverage sensationalizes or glamorizes a death.
  • Covering suicide carefully, even briefly, can change public misperceptions and correct myths which can
    encourage those who are vulnerable or at risk to seek help.

NEW!  The Carter Center Journalism Resource Guide on Behavioral Health - Released September 2015

  • From the Forward: Behavioral health conditions impact everyone. Although stereotypes and misperceptions regarding mental health and substance use conditions are common, journalists can play an influential role in educating and informing the public about these serious public health issues and reduce the prevalence of sensationalized inaccurate information that fuels prejudice and discrimination.

Entertainment Industries Council  "a non-profit organization founded in 1983 by leaders in the entertainment industry to provide information, awareness and understanding of major health and social issues among the entertainment industries and to audiences at large."

The Voice Awards Giving a Voice to Recovery  The Voice Awards program honors consumer/peer leaders in recovery from mental and/or substance use disorders, as well as television and film professionals, for their collective efforts to educate the public about the real experiences of people with behavioral health problems.

ADS Center - SAMHSA's resource center to promote Acceptance, Dignity and Social Inclusion Associated with Mental Health.

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