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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Department of Health and Human Services
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration

Last Updated: 6/22/2012

SAMHSA’s Resource Center to Promote Acceptance,
Dignity and Social Inclusion Associated with
Mental Health (ADS Center)


The Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism
Atlanta, Georgia USA

Start Date

Brief Description
Journalists in all forms of media play an increasingly important role in shaping public understanding and debate about health care issues. The Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism program, created in 1996, is part of a national effort to reduce negative attitudes and discrimination associated with mental illnesses. The fellowship program aims to increase accurate reporting on mental health issues; help journalists produce high-quality work that reflects an understanding of mental health issues through exposure to well-established resources in the field; and develop a cadre of better-informed print and electronic journalists.

Mental illnesses constitute some of the most serious, unrecognized, under-reported health problems in the United States. Despite the current health care “revolution,” mental health issues often remain shrouded in myth or mystery, perpetuating negative attitudes and discrimination against people with mental illnesses, their families, and the professionals who treat them.

The overall aim of the fellowship program is to improve media portrayals of mental illnesses by emphasizing the importance of accurate depictions, including focusing on the whole person and not just the illness. Journalists interested in obtaining a fellowship participate in a competitive process to become a selected journalist who will be awarded with a stipend of $10,000 each. Selected individuals are encouraged to select topics that are unique and creative. Projects may educate the public, raise awareness, and inform other journalists in the field. The Carter Center provides resources through its network of scientific, health care, education, consumer, family, provider, and government organizations agencies.

Some recent topics have included exploring:

  • The roles impulsivity and mental illness play in contributing to suicides in the United States.
  • The gaps in access to health care among young adults ages 18 to 21 who have mental illnesses.
  • The difficulties and special skills needed to deliver mental health services to a multiethnic population.

Fellowships are tailored to suit the needs, interests, and experiences of each fellow. They also generate knowledge and information to benefit the mental health field and the public.

The Fellowship Program has awarded and trained 98 journalists on mental health reporting since its inception. Fellows came from all across the United States, as well as South Africa, Romania, and New Zealand.

Since the beginning of the Fellowship Program, more than 100 newspaper and magazine articles have been written, five books published, four television documentaries produced, and hours of radio time aired. Fellows’ projects have garnered awards from Mental Health America, the American Psychological Association, Amnesty International, and the Association of Health Care Journalists, as well as Emmy Award and Pulitzer Prize nominations.

For more information on the Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism, please contact Rebecca Palpant, senior program associate, at or via phone at 404–420–5165.

To learn more about the Fellowship program or to review work completed by past fellows, vist the program Web site at


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This Web site was developed under contract with the Office of Consumer Affairs in SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services. The views, opinions, and content provided on this Web site do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or policies of SAMHSA or HHS. The resources listed in this Web site are not all-inclusive and inclusion on this Web site does not constitute an endorsement by SAMHSA or HHS.