Media & Mental Health Initiative (MMHI)
We believe all forms of media (news, entertainment, social) have the power to make a transformational impact on health and mental health, when used accurately, safely and in ethical, developmentally appropriate ways. This initiative aims to understand and improve the impact of media on mental health through partnerships, collaboration, and projects aimed to enhance the prosocial, safe use of media in multiple forms.
Meet the MMHI Team
MMHI Goals and Strategy
Increase reporting that normalizes the prevalence of mental health conditions and emphasizes stories of help-seeking and recovery.
Reduce copycat suicides by increasing reporting that adheres to the safe reporting guidelines for suicide prevention.
Build media partnerships and a national network focused on fostering collaborations between suicide prevention and mental health organizations and journalists, including schools of journalism.
Contribute to the development of a multi-disciplinary ethical framework that prioritizes health and wellbeing.
Enhance technology’s capacity for promoting connection, education, creativity and help-seeking.
Minimize the adverse effects of technology use, particularly on youth.
Partner with youth, parents, educators, policymakers and industry to better understand the interaction between social media and youth mental health and to create a supportive, healthy, safe and developmentally appropriate infrastructure that reinforces healthy norms and minimizes health risks associated with technology use.
Normalize and de-stigmatize mental illness, help-seeking and recovery in stories and productions.
Reduce copycat suicides and other unhealthy behaviors by increasing stories and portrayals of mental illness that adhere to recommended reporting guidelines and minimize the appeal of unhealthy behaviors.
Partner with writers, directors, producers, networks, actors, influencers and youth to encourage safe, positive conversations about mental health, follow media guidelines, establish best practices, and contribute to the development of healthy, accurate content for entertainment media.
Tools and Resources
Social Media and Youth Mental Health: an event to confront the moral panic
Social Media and Youth: Findings and Recommendations from an Investigation into Teen Experiences
By better understanding typical teen experiences online, this project aimed to elevate what teens see as supportive in their online interactions and what they wish would change. The findings also raised many new questions and opportunities for further research.
TEMPOS, Tool for Evaluating Media Portrayals of Suicide
HX Report: Aligning Our Tech Future With Our Human Experience
Our #goodforMEdia team members were profiled in the HX Report from All Tech is Human:
- “I am optimistic that our society can build a tech future aligned with our human values. More and more younger generations who are growing up in a digital age are advocating for healthier social media practices.” – Emily Chan
- “Paradoxically, connection is on one of the most powerful tools that technology offers, and when we are unable to be authentically ourselves when engaging with technology, we lose access to that tool.” – Zoe Adelsheim
Try out our new web interactive version of TEMPOS
Media & Youth Suicide: Best Practices for Reporting and Storytelling
A 2018 pre-conference symposium dedicated to promoting responsible portrayals of youth suicide in the media and included a predominately regional mix of representatives from news media, entertainment media, social media, schools of journalism, youth, and mental health experts.
#chatsafe guidelines have been developed in partnership with young people to provide support to those who might be responding to suicide-related content posted by others or for those who might want to share their own feelings and experiences with suicidal thoughts, feelings or behaviours.
Hear youth in the Bay Area express their thoughts on representation of mental health in the media.
Hear from our youth co-founders about the #goodformedia campaign. This video was recorded by Made of Millions as part of their 2021 Generation Change livestream series.
#GoodforMEdia is a peer mentoring campaign for older teens and young adults to share their personal stories, insights, and strategies with younger teens and tweens to support their healthy engagement with technology and social media.
CineWell is a youth-led project with the goal of creating space to discuss and evaluate movies focused on youth friendliness, authenticity, and accuracy and portrayal of mental health themes.
- Mass General Research Institute
How A New Tool Can Help the Media Responsibly Report on Suicide
Chloe Chang Sorensen, lead developer of TEMPOS, discusses ways we can put TEMPOS in action and how public health and suicide prevention professionals can use TEMPOS to develop more targeted interventions when working with media partners on their reporting on suicide.
- Nieman Lab
Stories of resilience may be linked to lower suicide rates. Will media organizations listen?
For media producers who are covering stories about suicide or suicidal ideation, a wealth of scientific literature shows that language and framing of these narratives have serious impacts. Vicki Harrison and Song Kim, leaders of the Media and Mental Health Initiative, are quoted in this article on the subject.
U.S. Surgeon General issues advisory on protecting youth mental health
The Media and Mental Health Initiative provided advisory on the development of best practices on what media organizations can do to frame stories that protect the mental health of their readers and viewers.
- Psychiatric News
A Psychiatrist’s Journey Through Community Suicide Contagion: How Media Can Make A Difference
Dr. Steven Adelsheim writes, “For psychiatrists, it is a critical professional responsibility to educate our media partners about the risk of suicide contagion and encourage journalists to follow the reporting recommendations to help save lives.”
- Psychiatric News
Stanford Initiative Engages Media About Mental Health, Suicide
Dr. Victor Schwartz discusses how media—including entertainment venues—can promote positive messages about mental health.
- NY Times
Teenage girls say Instagram’s mental health impacts are no surprise.
This article showcases the wide discussion on the idea that for many young people, Instagram can hurt their self-image. Vicki Harrison illuminates the voices of youth she works with about their challenges with navigating the platform and talks about the mission of GoodforMEdia.
- Psychiatric News
Psychiatrists Create Initiative to Educate Media About Suicide Contagion
This article describes the Media and Mental Health Initiative’s aim to promote public health education about mental health and suicide and systematically embed evidence-informed guidelines across all media platforms to advance narratives that promote hope, help seeking, and awareness about mental health and suicide while mitigating harmful ones.
- Washington Post
Instagram is touting safety features for teens. Mental health advocates aren’t buying it.
Vicki Harrison, program director for the Center for Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing at Stanford University, talk about “doom scroll” and how Instagram’s new features may help address some of these concerns.
- Washington Post
Banning your children from Instagram won’t help keep them safe. These tips will.
Vicki Harrison shares resources on what parents can do to make sure their children are safe when using social media and highlights GoodforMEdia’s guide for parents on understanding and navigating social media with their kids.
- Washington Post
Words describing mental health can stigmatize. That’s painful and dehumanizing.
Victor Schwartz, a psychiatrist at New York University School of Medicine who helped organize the Media and Mental Health Initiative at Stanford University, talks about how disparaging “language can feel shame-inducing. It makes it harder for people to reach out for help or admit they are having mental health problems.”
- Center for Scholars & Storytellers
More Realistic Physical Representations in Media Will Support Youth Mental Health
Movies and TV should write more characters with different body types. Beauty standards in entertainment can drive impressionable young people to extreme behaviors like eating disorders to get that "perfect look." Oversexualized characters teach kids to objectify each other, too.
- Center for Scholars & Storytellers
Avoiding Mental Health Stigmatizations & Encouraging Help Seeking Through Entertainment Media
Many movie and TV characters with mental disorders stigmatize mental illness. Storytellers must recognize the importance of diversity in mental health. Avoid stereotypes, derogatory language, unhelpful doctors, and more. Write TV and movie characters coping with mental disorders in positive ways.
- Prizmah Mental Health Summit 2022
Mental Health, Suicide and the Media: What Clinicians Should Know
Dr. Victor Schwartz discusses the interaction between media portrayals of mental illness and stigma, understanding media influenced suicide contagion, and a best practice model for safely reporting and portraying suicide in the media.
- Children and Screens
Looking Back and Moving Forward: Children’s Pandemic Experiences So Far and Where to Go From Here
Program Director, Vicki Harrison served as an expert panelist on Oct 6, 2021 for “Looking Back and Moving Forward: Children’s Pandemic Experiences So Far and Where to Go From Here,” a Children and Screens Ask The Experts webinar, during which an interdisciplinary panel of experts discussed the physical, mental, and social impacts of COVID-19 for young people. From exploring what we’ve learned about virtual learning to the increased need for media literacy, the panelists shared information and advice to support youth through the next phase of the pandemic.
- Art & Tech For a Better World
A new generation of designers
Vicki Harrison, Program Director for Stanford Psychiatry's Center for Youth Mental Health & Wellbeing presents #GoodforMEdia the peer-mentoring platform designed and developed at Stanford with young people 16-25.
- International Center for Journalists (ICFJ)
How Journalists Can Best Report on Mental Health and Suicide
Victor Schwartz speaks at the International Center for Journalists about the importance of safe, responsible reporting of suicide. “Everything that is the natural impulse of a journalist in writing a really good story is problematic when reporting on suicide. The media guidelines are meant to direct the writer away from those kinds of impulses so that the audience does not identify with the events of the story or with the person.”
- The Kennedy Forum
Our Words Matter: The Role of Journalists in Creating Safe, Human-centered Stories about Mental Health
Dr. Steven Adelsheim and Scott MacLeod, Co-Founder of The Sophie Fund, discuss how to promote responsible and fair communications in the media and how journalists can play an influential role in educating and informing the public about public health issues and reduce the prevalence of sensationalized inaccurate information that fuels stigma and discrimination regarding mental health and substance use disorders.
- 5th Annual Student Mental Wellness Conference hosted by Wellness Together and California Department of Education
Youth-led Mental Health Campaigns Promoting Healthy Social Media Use & Cultural Literacy
The GoodforMEdia team present on how peer-focused, youth-led initiatives can support middle-high school student mental health by highlighting the #goodforMEdia campaign as well as preliminary outcomes of surveys illuminating how culture, race, and ethnicity impact mental health and help-seeking.
- Made of Millions Foundation
Media and Youth Mental Health
In episode 4 of Generation Change, Vicki Harrison of the Stanford Center for Youth Mental Health hosts a panel of youth guests from allcove and the #GoodforMEdia project to discuss how online spaces impact their emotional wellbeing.
Workshops and Conferences
May 19, 2022 - Spitfire University
Suicide and Mental Health Narratives in the Interest of Public Health
Vicki Harrison and Chloe Sorenson provide a special learning session on writing about suicide and mental health, and how the words and images we use matter.
April 29-30, 2022 in Chicago, IL
American Association of Suicidology 55th Annual Conference
Featured Plenary: “Portrayals of Suicide in the Media”
Panel Discussion with our MMHI team and Sheila Nevins, Executive Producer at MTV Documentary Films/Paramount+ on the challenges and lessons learned in producing a major network documentary, “Each and Every Day,” and the impact of suicide and mental health in popular media on youth mental health.
Workshop: “Innovative Approaches for Collaborating with the News Media to Prevent Suicide Contagion”
Our TEMPOS team facilitated a workshop on TEMPOS and innovative methods of working with journalists to improve media messaging on suicide.
April 28-May 1, 2022
Association of Health Care Journalists Annual Health Journalism Conference
Workshop: “How to write about suicide” Vicki Harrison participates in a panel and hands-on, skill-building workshop for journalists on how to minimize potential harms in reporting on suicide using TEMPOS and developing a better understanding of this issue as a public health problem.
Generation Mental Health
Global Mental Health: Agents of Change, “Effects of Social Media and News on Mental Health – Panel”
Vicki Harrison participates in a panel discussion that examines the effects of news and social media on the mental health of individuals, the stigmatization and public awareness of mental illness, and initiatives that help individuals navigate mental health in a digital world and mobilize media for positive change.
Youth Tech Health Global Conference
GoodforMEdia – a youth-led peer mentoring campaign for youth to educate and influence one another, supporting healthy engagement with social media
The GoodforMEdia team share youth perspectives on effectively navigating common challenges with social media, why peer mentoring is a useful strategy for addressing the impact of social media on youth mental health, and insights learned from rolling out a youth-led peer mentoring campaign.