Wednesday, April 15, 2009

4/16 Conversation at The Carter Center -- looking at the nature of mental illnesses and misconceptions faced by those affected

Tomorrow evening, Jenny and I will be attending a Conversation program at The Carter Center in Atlanta entitled “Mental Illnesses: Myths and Realities.”

Mental illnesses constitute some of the most serious, unrecognized, and under-reported health problems in the United States and around the world. Mental illnesses are extremely common — one in four Americans will experience one in their lifetime — yet advances in treatment and understanding of mental illnesses have not changed public perception of these disorders. Many people incorrectly believe mental illnesses cannot be treated or that a person with a mental illness is more likely to be violent.

Noted mental health and anti-stigma experts Dr. Patrick Corrigan, Dr. Ben Druss, and Charles Willis will address these and other misconceptions that are the most harmful to efforts to improve access to mental health care and fight discrimination against people with mental illness. The discussion will be facilitated by the Carter Center's Mental Health Program Director, Dr. Thom Bornemann.

As part of an international effort to reduce stigma and discrimination, The Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism provide stipends to journalists to report on topics related to mental health or mental illnesses.

The goals of the fellowships are to:

1. Increase accurate reporting on mental health issues and decrease incorrect, stereotypical information.

2. Help journalists produce high-quality work that reflects an understanding of mental health issues through exposure to well-established resources in the field.

3. Develop a cadre of better-informed print and electronic journalists who will more accurately report information through newspapers, magazines, radio, television, film, and the Internet and influence their peers to do the same.

Here’s a news story from our local ABC station, WLS-7 that aired on Monday, August 18, 2008. The reporter is Kevin Roy, who received a fellowship from The Carter Center for mental health journalism.

And you may search the archives of other fellowship recipients at

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