Media & Mental Health Initiative (MMHI)

This project is supported with SPOt funds and housed within the The Center for Youth Mental Health & Wellbeing and affiliated with The Mental Health Technology & Innovation Hub

Our Goals

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.

Journalism/News Media

Goal A

Increase reporting that normalizes the prevalence of mental health conditions and emphasizes stories of help-seeking and recovery.  

Goal B

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. 

Hear youth in the Bay Area express their thoughts on representation of mental health in the media.

Social Media

Goal A

Contribute to the development of a multi-disciplinary ethical framework that prioritizes health and wellbeing.

Goal B

Enhance technology’s capacity for promoting connection, education, creativity and help-seeking.

Goal C

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.

Entertainment Media

Goal A

Normalize and de-stigmatize mental illness, help-seeking and recovery in stories and productions.  

Goal B

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 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.

Core Functions

  • House a national vanguard organization focused on integrating media/ suicide prevention and mental health organizational partnerships.
  • Draw attention to and educate about the phenomenon of media "contagion"
  • In partnership with journalists, other media partners, and suicide prevention/mental health agencies, create and/or expand on proper reporting guidelines, best practices, the ethics of media and mental health, and healthy content for journalists and entertainment media.
  • Conduct and promote media literacy and digital citizenship trainings for youth & families
  • Collaborate with tech industry partners on strategies for promoting healthy use of technology
  • Media campaign development and partnerships, promoting media literacy, anti-stigma, safe mental health promotions
  • Consider components necessary for developing structures to provide mental health support for journalists covering suicide and traumatic events

Recent Project Activity

  • Mindful Media Youth-Led Workshop at YTH Live May 2019
    Download Slides - These slides are the property of the Media and Mental Health Initiative and Youth United for Responsible Media Representation teams and are not available for modification. Content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice, or as a substitute for the medical advice of a physician.
  • Launched the US #chatsafe guidelines - A Young Person's Guide to Communicating Safely Online About Suicide
  • Convened April 2018 Pre-Conference on Suicide and Contagion
  • Convened May 2018 Media Roundtable at APA Conference
  • Signed & Distributed Joint Statement from Experts on the Release of 13 Reasons Why, Season 2, May 2018
  • Survey of journalists on guideline adherence (August 2018)
  • Sponsored and supported youth-led Mindful Media conference August 2018
  • Plans underway for documentary film on media contagion
  • Collaborations with Facebook, Hack Mental Health, Youth/Tech/Health (YTH) and others on reverse hackathons and mental health innovation challenges (2017, 2018, 2019)



Social Media


Visit related programs and learn more about our funding

SPOt is made possible with funds from the Stanford University School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, and the Stanford Child Health Research Institute