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The Lovell Foundation Partners with The Carter Center to Improve Mental Health Reporting

Featured September 2020

"Informed journalists can have a significant impact on public understanding of mental health issues as they shape debate and trends with the words and pictures they convey."
-Rosalynn Carter

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Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter has been a steadfast advocate for parity and improving the lives of those living with mental health disorders. The Center’s Mental Health Program, which houses the Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism, works to improve access to quality behavioral health services through varied initiatives.

Supported by Mrs. Carter’s long-standing advocacy for the rights of people with mental illnesses, the Mental Health Program promotes awareness about mental health issues, informs public policy, achieves equity for mental health care comparable to other health care, and reduces stigma and discrimination against those living with mental illness.

  • Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter poses with the 2019-2020 cohort of Mental Health Journalism Fellows at The Carter Center in September 2019. (Photo: The Carter Center/ M. Schwarz)

Founded in 1996, the Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism aims to increase the accuracy of behavioral health reporting, while decreasing incorrect, stereotypical content in circulation. Over the years, the Fellowship has created a cadre of better-informed professional journalists who more accurately and thoughtfully report information through media channels, creating a ripple effect of a more understanding society.

Yet, despite the passing of mental health parity policies and the growing cohort of journalism fellows worldwide, stories about the lack of access continue to emerge. Insurance companies continue to deny mental health cost coverage, families continue to file for bankruptcy to pay for services, and people continue to die by suicide, live on the streets, or are incarcerated because they are not able to get the help they need. Many of these crises have become even more glaring with the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, as people living with mental health disorders face extra challenges of isolation, anxiety, insomnia, and suicidal ideation, while insurance companies balk at covering telehealth services.

Beginning with our network of Mental Health Journalism Fellows and with generous support from The David and Lura Lovell Foundation, The Carter Center will build a collaborative of local and national newsrooms to coordinate coverage of the impact of the lack of parity and the solutions yet to be explored. Part of this collaborative will include virtual regional workshops for journalists on mental health reporting, solutions-oriented journalism, and meetings pertaining to mental health issues of local relevance.

As a new donor to the Center, we look forward to building an impactful partnership with The David and Lura Lovell Foundation and shaping the future of mental health reporting and journalism-driven conversations. The Carter Center is grateful for The David and Lura Lovell Foundation and other dedicated donors for their commitment to promoting parity and improving the lives of those living with mental illness.

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