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 Mental Health in Southwestern Pennsylvania

Caregivers and the Media

Caregiver is a term most often used to refer to an unpaid family member or friend who provides care to an individual over a period of time when they are in need of assistance due to a medical condition. Their almost daily interaction with patients and close adherence to instructions from medical professionals gives caregivers a unique perspective on the daily life of an individual living with a mental illness or other medical condition. These personal stories can provide you, the media professional, with new insight into treatment options, daily routines, and common struggles that can be both intriguing and relatable for your audience.

But the question is... How do you reach out to these caregivers and connect with them? How do you help them to interact with you? Check out  these frequently asked questions from Caregivers who are interested in connecting with their local media. Consider ways you can reach out to these individuals in your area to help them become a better resource for your stories!


Some questions when deciding upon a point of contact are:
  • What specific reporters cover medical stories?
  • Who is the Director of Community Affairs?
  • Who produces the local morning show?
  • Who is the Assignment Manager?
It is important to do your research on individuals prior to contacting them; this will help you to get in touch with the right person the first time. Try to contact individuals directly and avoid “information” e-mails or phone and fax numbers.



There are several ways you can communicate with the media:
  • Pitch letters: A personalized letter ‘pitching’ a topic or event that is newsworthy. For tips on writing pitch letters, visit:
  • Press releases: A two to three-page report detailing the specifics of an event that has or will take place.
  • Media kits: A quick overview of what your organization has to offer or what it is that you want covered by the media. This may include photos, background information on your organization and the topic, and contact information.


Framing your message properly is the key to being noticed and obtaining media time. Consider the following:
  • What is your goal? What do you want to accomplish? Be specific.
  • Decide upon a core message and key points parallel with your goals. This message should promote understanding and education about mental illnesses.
  • Incorporate your key points in multiple areas within your materials to ensure the media representative does not overlook them.


Topics of interest may include mental health related events, personal stories, research breakthroughs, or new and enlightening statistics, research, and development. Only reach out to the media when you have something that is newsworthy, interesting to the population, or when you can contribute your knowledge to a story already in the news. Contact the media to offer your expertise when you see something negatively or inaccurately portrayed on mental illness. Remember, not everything can be labeled as newsworthy.
Media and Mental Health Logo

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

Moving Beyond Mayview
Sean Hamill 
Magazine Story Winner for accurate reporting on behavioral health issues

This article, featured in Pittsburgh Quarterly and written by Sean Hamill, discusses the closing of Mayview State Hospital and its impact on psychiatric patients who received community-based care from the hospital.

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
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offering access to experts on this and
many other topics.

To set up your own FREE First Draft Consultation 
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or call 412-486-2151 

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