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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.

MMHI Goals and Strategy

Journalism Media

Goals

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.

Strategy

Build media partnerships and a national network focused on fostering collaborations between suicide prevention and mental health organizations and journalists, including schools of journalism. 




 

Social Media

Goals

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.

Strategy

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.

Entertainment Media

Goals

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.

Strategy

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


TEMPOS, Tool for Evaluating Media Portrayals of Suicide

Tool for Evaluating Media Portrayals of Suicide (TEMPOS) was developed in collaboration with the County of Santa Clara Behavioral Health Services Department’s Suicide Prevention Program. It is the first tool that allows media professionals, public health officials, researchers, and suicide prevention experts to assess adherence to the recommended reporting guidelines with a user-friendly, standardized rating scale. The scale can be used to monitor changes in reporting over time and how reporting varies across articles, authors, and publications.

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.

#GoodforMEdia’s Guide to Social Media for Parents

Young people are gaining access to technology and social media at younger ages, and it is clear that social media will only become more prominent in people’s daily lives. Parents may be left wondering what to do when it comes to handling their family’s social media usage. To bridge this divide, the #GoodforMEdia youth leaders created, designed, and wrote a new guide for parents on what they should know about social media and strategies for having productive conversations with their child about it.

#chatsafe: a young person's guide for communicating safely online about suicide

#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.

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.  

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.

News Mentions

Presentations and Events

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.”

May 2019

Mindful Media Youth-Led Workshop at YTH Live 

August 2018

Youth-led Mindful Media conference 

May 2018

Signed & Distributed Joint Statement from Experts on the Release of 13 Reasons Why, Season 2

May 2018

Media Roundtable at APA Conference

April 2018

Pre-Conference on Suicide and Contagion

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