Quick Tips to Improve Mental Health Reporting
Checklist for Reporting on Mental Illness
- Write with awareness that people with mental illness face prejudice and discrimination.
- Ask, "Is mental illness relevant to the story?"
- Verify statements that mental illness is a factor in a violent crime. A past history of mental illness is not necessarily a reliable indicator.
- Avoid using language that implies people with mental illness are violent.
- In stories on mental illness and violence, provide context whenever possible. Most people with mental illness are no more likely to commit violent crimes than a person who has not been diagnosed with mental illness.
- Use People First Language.
- Avoid using stereotypical words or phrases in describing people with mental illness.
- Be sensitive when using photographs for stories involving mental health issues.
- Double-check specific symptoms of diagnoses with valid mental health resources, as necessary.
- When possible, emphasize that treatment is available and effective, recovery happens and prevention works.
- When interviewing a person with a mental illness, be clear and repeat important information and give the interviewee ample time to answer the questions posed.