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Journalists Gain Insight into Mental Health

Last fall, 18 journalists met at The Carter Center to discuss an underreported health problem: mental illnesses. The meeting was part of the Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism, which aim to enhance public understanding of mental health issues and reduce stigma and discrimination against people with mental illnesses through balanced and accurate reporting. Three fellows share their experience here.


Author: Megan Thompson

Megan Thompson

Fellowship Class: 2014-2015
Occupation: Producer and reporter, PBS NewsHour Weekend
Fellowship Project: Connection among children, poverty, and mental health; well-being of girls in juvenile justice system

Thompson said she never thought of herself as an insensitive reporter, but her Rosalynn Carter fellowship has made her more aware of the stereotypes about people with mental illnesses. Throughout the fellowship, she also focused on success and resilience. "It really kind of stuck with me," she said. "For example, when talking about kids and poverty for my story on toxic stress, I didn't want the story to come across as though we have millions of kids who are doomed. It's a serious problem but there are ways it can be mitigated."



Supplemental Links:

How Does the 'Toxic Stress' of Poverty Hurt the Developing Brain?

To Help Delinquent Girls, Programs Aim to Rehabilitate Rather Than Incarcerate

Gentler Justice: Florida Youth Detention Center Enacts 'Homelike' Reforms

I Am Beautiful': Meet Once Incarcerated Girls Who Turned Their Lives Around




Author: Misty Rae Williams

Misty Williams

Fellowship Class: 2014-2015
Occupation: Health reporter, Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper
Fellowship Project: Lack of access to mental health care for the uninsured

As a health care reporter in Atlanta, Williams was used to reaching out to Carter Center staff for mental health expertise. But when she became a fellow, Williams' pool of resources widened. At the annual fellowship meeting "you enter a room with experts from across the country and the world who are tops in their field," Williams said.



Supplemental Links:

The Invisible Epidemic: Poor and Mentally Ill in Georgia

Mental Health Treatment for the Uninsured Has a Heavy Price

A New Day for Mental Health Treatment in Oregon, But Not Here




Ben Selkow

Ben Selkow

Fellowship Class: 2010-2011
Occupation: Documentary filmmaker
Fellowship Project: "Buried Above Ground," a documentary film about post-traumatic stress disorder as it relates to an Iraq war veteran, a domestic abuse and child abuse survivor, and a Hurricane Katrina survivor

Selkow began his career with a planned film on street basketball in New York, but a chance meeting at the courts turned the focus of the film to a man living with bipolar disorder. For his current film, "Buried Above Ground," he wanted to look at how trauma affects people in different communities. "I want my audience to leave with an appreciation for humanity," he said. "That's why I like documentaries — in the long form there's an opportunity to place context, which can lead to empathy and compassion."



Supplemental Link:

Buried Above Ground

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