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Carter Center Releases National Journalism Guide for Reporting on Behavioral Health

Contact: Rennie Sloan,, 404-420-5129

ATLANTA...The Carter Center Mental Health Program today released "The Carter Center Journalism Resource Guide on Behavioral Health" to journalists, behavioral health and media experts, and guests during the three-day annual meeting of the Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism. Approximately 1 in 5 Americans aged 18 or older experienced a mental illness last year, and 20.7 million adults (8.8%) had a substance use disorder.

"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," said former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, co-founder of The Carter Center and chair of the Carter Center Mental Health Task Force.

The resource guide aims to increase accurate reporting of behavioral health issues, decrease stereotypes, and help journalists better understand mental health and substance use issues and access expert resources. The guide was officially shared by Mrs. Carter and Paolo del Vecchio, Director of the Center for Mental Health Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). SAMHSA in part provided funding and subject matter expertise in the development of the guide. The guide release was followed by a panel discussion of journalists and experts. (More details on the 1:25 p.m. EDT launch event and live broadcast are below.)

"This guide will enhance the ability of journalists covering stories that involve real or perceived mental health issues to report with accuracy, fairness, and sensitivity," said Dr. Thomas Bornemann, director of the Carter Center's Mental Health Program. "Ultimately, we hope the guide also leads to an increase in public understanding of behavioral health issues leading to early intervention for people with mental illnesses and substance use disorders."

For almost two decades the program has worked closely with the media through its initiative, The Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism, to improve media depictions of mental health issues. The program has awarded159 fellowships to professional journalists on five continents, and over 1,500 mental health pieces have been completed by Rosalynn Carter Fellows during or after the fellowship.

Panel Event Schedule

1:25 – 1:45 p.m. 

Welcome and Remarks

  • Thomas Bornemann, Ed.D., Director, The Carter Center Mental Health Program
  • Ambassador (ret.) Mary Ann Peters, The Carter Center CEO
  • Rosalynn Carter, Former U.S. First Lady
  • Paolo del Vecchio, Director, Center for Mental Health Services, SAMHSA
1:45 – 2:35 p.m. 

Panel Discussion, Questions and Answers

  • Anita Sharpe, Atlanta Bureau Chief, Bloomberg News (moderator)
  • Ben Selkow, Director and Producer - "BURIED ABOVE GROUND," Former Rosalynn Carter Journalism Fellow
  • Paul Gionfriddo, President and CEO, Mental Health America
  • Bill Lichtenstein, President, Lichtenstein Creative Media, Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism Advisory Board Member
  • Otto Wahl, Professor Emeritus, University of Hartford

Editor's Note:

You can watch a live broadcast of the event on a Periscope link shared on the @CarterCenter Twitter account at 1:25 p.m. EDT. Follow the discussion using the hashtag #MHreporting.

The Carter Center Journalism Resource Guide on Behavioral Health (PDF) >


"Waging Peace. Fighting Disease. Building Hope."
A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, The Carter Center has helped to improve life for people in over 80 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; and improving mental health care. The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide.

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