We are available to assist media professionals cover topics related to mental illness and recovery, suicide prevention, affordable housing development and homelessness.
If you are a member of the media and would like information, or if you would like to connect with a mental health expert, please contact Matt Gleason on his mobile number at 918.527.0414, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For immediate response, do not hesitate to send a text message to Matt on nights and weekends.
Check out these tips for reporting on mental illness, suicide and homelessness!
- Use phrases like “a person impacted by mental illness” or “a person in recovery from bipolar disorder,” rather than describing someone as “mentally ill” or “schizophrenic.”
- Do not use derogatory terms, such as insane, crazy/crazed, nuts or deranged, unless they are part of a quotation that is essential to the story.
- Do not assume that mental illness is a factor in a violent crime, and avoid unsubstantiated statements by witnesses or first responders attributing violence to mental illness.
- Studies have shown that the vast majority of people with mental illness are not violent, and experts say most people who are violent are not mentally ill.
- Nevertheless, a first responder often is quoted as saying, without direct knowledge, that a crime was committed by a person with a “history of mental illness.” If used, such comments must be attributed to law enforcement authorities, medical professionals, family members or others who have knowledge of the history and can authoritatively speak to its relevance. In the absence of definitive information, there should be a disclaimer that a link had yet to be established.
- Avoid descriptions that connote pity, such as afflicted with, suffers from or victim of. Rather, he has obsessive-compulsive disorder.
- Double-check specific symptoms and diagnoses. Avoid interpreting behavior common to many people as symptoms of mental illness. Sadness, anger, exuberance and the occasional desire to be alone are normal emotions experienced by people who have mental illness as well as those who don’t.
- When practical, let people with mental disorders talk about their own diagnoses.
- Avoid using mental health terms to describe non-health issues. Don’t say that an awards show, for example, was schizophrenic.
- Do not refer to suicide as “successful,” “unsuccessful” or as a “failed attempt.” Refer instead to an attempted suicide.
- Do not use “killed himself,” “he committed suicide,” or “he completed suicide.” Instead, use phrases like “died by suicide,” “thoughts of suicide” and “suicide attempt” or “suicidal ideation.”
- Avoid using committed suicide except in direct quotations from authorities. Alternate phrases include killed himself, took her own life or died by suicide. The verb commit with suicide can imply a criminal act.
- When writing about homelessness, use phrases like “a person experiencing homelessness” and “he overcame homelessness” rather than describing someone as “homeless.”