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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)


Books, Articles and Research

Entry on mental illness is added to AP Stylebook
This press release announces that, as of March 7, 2013, the Associated Press (AP) had added an entry on mental illness to the AP Stylebook to help address how journalists handle questions of mental illness in their coverage. This addition is a significant positive step for public education efforts around mental health that will help reduce negative perceptions and promote social inclusion of people with mental health problems.

Your language matters when writing about mental illness
In this article, the Mental Health Association of Portland describes the impact of language when writing about mental disorders. A bad choice of language to describe a particular mental health problem or individual has the potential to demean, hurt, and perpetuate stereotypes. This article provides guidelines for journalists from disability rights' literature and from individuals with mental disorders on respectful language that helps embrace diversity and dignity.

Mental illness & violence: We need to step up
In this blog post, the author discusses violence in the United States, failures within the country's mental health system, and common stereotypes related to individuals with mental disorders and how these misconceptions feed negative and harmful beliefs about people with mental disorders. These negative and harmful beliefs cause fewer people to seek treatment and even reduce the likelihood of self-disclosure by individuals who have had success in their recovery journeys. The author suggests that self-disclosure from individuals in recovery from mental health issues who are living healthy lives could help with people's exposure to mental health consumers, providing a balance to the violent portrayals of individuals with mental disorders too often presented by the media. He also suggests that self-disclosure could help society, especially individuals in need of treatment, understand that recovery is possible.

Words can wound: How the media describe the mentally ill and disabled
In this Kaiser Health News article, authors discuss the offensive language that a National Public Radio correspondent used during a recent interview. This incident not only highlighted the insensitivity that still exists in people's references to individuals with mental disorders, but it also shed light on how negative portrayals in the media can play a role in perpetuating the negative and harmful attitudes and beliefs associated with mental disorders.

Within our reach: Ending the mental health crisis
This book, written by former first lady Rosalynn Carter with Susan Golant and Kathryn Cade, offers an assessment of the current state of mental health. The book focuses on both the progress Mrs. Carter has seen during her 35 years of advocacy and the serious issues that must still be addressed before the mental health system can adequately meet the needs of people with mental health problems.

Mental health issues and the media: An introduction for health professionals
Morris provides students and professionals in nursing and allied professions, psychiatry, psychology, and related disciplines with an introduction to the ways in which the media shapes our attitudes about mental health issues. Covering the press, literature, film, television, and Internet, this comprehensive text includes practical advice and recommendations on how to combat negative images for service users, healthcare workers, and media personnel.

More us than them: positive depictions of mental illness on Australian television news
This 2007 study reviewed television news coverage of mental health issues, including self-depictions from people with mental health problems and views expressed by mental health experts and politicians. Investigators conducted a broad-ranging content and frame analysis of mental health problems as depicted in the Australian television news media. The study supports the importance of involving people with histories of mental health problems in news coverage.

EMCI think tank: Mental healthcare media blueprint
This document details the recommendations from a 2008 roundtable discussion brought together leaders from entertainment, media, and mental health to discuss potential strategies to change the national dialogue regarding mental health problems.

Media, Mental Health and Discrimination: A Frame of Reference for Understanding Reporting Trends
This paper describes a theoretical tool to help identify negative stereotypes and inaccurate portrayals of mental health problems in media reports. The author contends that existing content analysis methodologies often miss depictions of mental health problems based on stereotypes or erroneous ideas about people with these problems.

Firewalkers: Madness, Beauty & Mystery
VOCAL Virginia used grant funding from SAMHSA's Campaign for Mental Health Recovery to produce a living anthology of stories of people who have experienced the turbulence of a mental health crisis. A guide to radically rethinking mental health, Firewalkers redefines mental illness as "a journey of emotional turbulence, crazy blessings, ecstatic visions, and mad gifts."

Newspaper coverage of mental illness: Is it changing?
This article suggests the importance of understanding what the media reports about mental illnesses. The current study looked at 300 newspaper articles containing the key phrase "mental illness" from 6 different newspapers for 1989 and for 1999. Each article was read and rated with respect to a variety of elements, including what specific disorders were named, what the main themes of each article were, and what was the overall tone of the article.

Impact of a television film on attitudes toward mental illness
This tudy investigated the impact of a prime time television film portraying a mentally ill killer on public attitdues of college students.

People never see us living well: An appraisal of the personal stories about mental illness in a prospective print media sample
Having found no discussions of self-depictions offered by psychiatric patients in the mass media, researchers sought such items in a prospective national sample of print media and analysed how those speakers portrayed themselves.

Media Madness: Public Images of Mental Illness
This book "describes and illustrates the ways mass media depict people with mental illnesses." It also discusses the impact of media stereotypes of mental illness, provides facts about mental illness, and gives examples of efforts to improve media portrayal of mental illness.

New York City Voices
New York City Voices includes articles on many mental health topics, such as recovery from mental health and substance use challenges, support resources, wellness practices, and public policy. Authors include mental health consumers, ex-patients /survivors, family members, and mental health and substance use treatment providers. Currently in blog format, the publication was previously at a different Web site; archived issues are now available at this Web site:

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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.