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 Mental Health in Southwestern Pennsylvania

Screen shot 2012-08-08 at 4.38.08 PMQuestions Journalists should ask when covering Mental Health stories

When writing articles or reporting on mental health, ask yourself the following questions as a way to brainstorm and check your work to be sure your story is promoting understanding and acceptance of mental health challenges.

1. Is your story about a specific person? If so, was this person receiving treatment, voluntarily off treatment, or completely untreated? Could treatment or lack thereof be related to the reason that they are in the news?

2. Is your story about a specific illness? Does your story encourage your reader to take action regarding this illness? How about to get screened or seek treatment? To help a loved one?

3. Is there an underlying theme of hope for those diagnosed with mental illness?

4. Would a reader unfamiliar with mental illness learn something new from this article or news story? Could it change any misconceptions they may have regarding mental illness or those who suffer from it?

5. Have you contacted an expert? Even if you feel that the story does not call for it, the knowledge of a mental health expert can provide background information, depth, and clout to your story. It can also engage your readers and help them to understand the topic at hand.

6. Does your story generalize an action or symptom to all sufferers of mental illness? If it does, you could be unknowingly reinforcing a stereotype or misconception.

Media and Mental Health Logo

A Highlight from Last Year's Media & Mental Health Awards 

Does Summer Make You Depressed? 
John Shumway & Larry Richert, KDKA Radio
Radio News Story Winner for accurate reporting on behavioral health issues

John Shumway and Larry Richert of KDKA Radio discuss a form of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder triggered by heat and anxiety related to the summer season.

Do's & Don'ts:
Avoid Using Discriminatory Language

  • DO focus on what a person can do, not on what they can’t do. 
  • DO stand up to people if they show a stigmatizing attitude. 
  • DO describe mental illness as a biological or chemical disease.
  • DO NOT label people by their illness. For example, a person should not be called a “schizophrenic,” but rather, “a person with schizophrenia.” 
  • DO NOT use a diagnosis casually. Use only exact and correct medical words. For example, do not use the word “schizophrenia” to describe an incident of delusional or hysterical thoughts or behaviors. 
  • DO NOT portray a successful person with disabilities as “superhuman”.

The 2012 SWPA
Media & Mental Health Awards

The 2
nd Annual SWPA
Media & Mental Health Awards ceremony will be held on
 November 8, 2012.

Click here to download this year's submissions packet!

 Portions of this newsletter adapted from
Picture This: Mental Health
in Pittsburgh

SWPA Cover
Click here for the full publication!

First Draft

EIC's FREE resource to the media 
offering access to experts on this and
many other topics.

 Contact Susan Brozek Scott at 
or call 412-486-2151 
To set up your own FREE 
First Draft Consultation. 

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