Contact: Paige Rohe, The Carter Center
Atlanta office, +1-404-420-5129
ATLANTA...After receiving a record number of applicants, the Carter Center's Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism-the only journalism fellowships exclusively for mental health-announced today the winners of its 2009-2010 awards (see below for full list of fellows and their project topics). Since 1996, the fellowship program has educated more than 100 journalists, who set the standard in their field for accurate and sensitive portrayals of mental health issues.
"Journalists have a very important role to play in shaping the public's perception of mental illnesses," said former First Lady and Carter Center Co-founder Rosalynn Carter. "If a news piece or a book shows what mental illness is really like, people will understand that mental illnesses happen to so many of us, and fortunately, even the most serious mental illnesses can be treated and most people can recover."
Mental health problems are typically under-reported compared to other health issues, and the fellowships allow journalists to remain in their own newsrooms, pursuing topics that may not otherwise be brought to the public's attention (see below for examples of fellows' projects).
Each domestic fellow is awarded a stipend of US$10,000 to study and report on a particular issue within the field for one year and receives training on covering mental health issues from leading experts. Currently, fellowships also are offered to two journalists from South Africa and two from Romania, and they receive a comparable stipend.
Previous fellows have produced more than 300 stories, documentaries, books, and other works. Fellows' projects have garnered awards from Mental Health America (formerly the National Mental Health Association), the American Psychological Association, Amnesty International, and the Association of Health Care Journalists, as well as Emmy and Pulitzer Prize nominations.
The fellowships are part of the Carter Center's Mental Health Program, which works around the world to reduce stigma and discrimination against people with mental illnesses and decrease incorrect and stereotypical information. In addition, The Carter Center conducts pioneering work on many other health fronts, including spearheading the historic campaign to eradicate Guinea worm disease, integrating neglected disease prevention, and building health infrastructure in some of the world's most impoverished communities.
The 2009-2010 Recipients of the Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Journalism Fellowships
The U.S. recipients are:
Topic: Report on the mental health needs of children in rural areas and focus on the stories of families that have relinquished custody of their children in order to have mental health care provided to them.
The Wall Street Journal
Topic: Examine the impact of the economic recession on people with mental illnesses.
The Charlotte Observer and The Raleigh News & Observer
Topic: Investigate the treatment of people with mental illnesses and developmental disabilities in North Carolina's jails and prisons.
WHDH-TV (NBC) Boston
Topic: Produce a television series on how immigrants from different cultures cope with depression in a family member.
Topic: Explore the issue of postpartum depression in African-American women.
National Public Radio
Topic: Produce radio stories on the treatment of mental illnesses in developing countries.
The South African recipients are:
Durban, South Africa
Topic: Examine depression and the stigma surrounding it in South Africans living with HIV/AIDS.
Metzi Van der Merwe
SABC Radio News
Cresta, South Africa
Topic: Produce a series of radio stories on the accommodation of people with mental illnesses into the workplace.
The Rosalynn Carter Fellowships would like to acknowledge their partnership with the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), Johannesburg, South Africa.
The Romanian recipients are:
Topic: Reveal the mental health problems associated with family loss as a result of a lack of support systems for affected families.
Cotidianul, Realitatea-Catavencu Media Group
Topic: Examine the Romanian mental health care system.
The Rosalynn Carter Fellowships would like to acknowledge their partnership with the Center for Independent Journalism, Bucharest, Romania.
The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide. A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, the Center has helped to improve life for people in more than 70 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; improving mental health care; and teaching farmers to increase crop production.