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NJ Governor’s Council on Mental Health Stigma Hosts Media Roundtable to Foster Accurate Portrayals of Mental Illnesses and People who Have Them

September 26, 2022

Dr. Otto Wahl, Author of Media Madness: Public Images of Mental Illness, to Deliver Keynote and Anti-Stigma Guidelines at this Event October 3, 2022

After a hiatus of several years, the Governor’s Council on Mental Health Stigma was reactivated in January 2022. Under the leadership of its new chair, Debra L. Wentz, PhD, President and CEO of the New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies and Executive Director of the New Jersey Mental Health Institute, the Council is undertaking a number of initiatives, with its first official event since it reconvened being a media roundtable, to be held virtually on October 3, 2022 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. via Zoom.

“With the proliferation of anxiety, depression, co-occurring and other mental health disorders, never has there been a better and more necessary time for the Governor's Council on Mental Health Stigma to reconvene and work to end stigma and discrimination and ensure health equity for all,” Dr. Wentz stated.

“Stigma is the greatest barrier that prevents individuals from seeking help for mental illnesses, and the media play a profound role in shaping the public’s understanding — and, in some cases, misunderstanding — and opinions about all issues. This media roundtable is an important opportunity for media representatives to portray mental illnesses and individuals who have them in the most accurate and positive way possible,” Dr. Wentz said.

“The images of psychiatric disorder that are presented to public audiences shape their attitudes and influence their behavior. When those images are unfavorable and inaccurate, as they often are, they contribute to the stigma and discrimination that represent formidable barriers to treatment and recovery,” wrote Otto F. Wahl, PhD, Professor Emeritus at the University of Hartford, in the preface of his book, Media Madness: Public Images of Mental Illness. Dr. Wahl will share many important observations of how mental illnesses and individuals who have them are depicted in the media, as well as guidelines, during a keynote presentation at the media roundtable.

“The roundtable will provide essential information and guidelines that not only news reporters, editors and producers must have, but also individuals in all other roles and situations, as their perspectives on mental illness impacts them in their professions and personal relationships,” Dr. Wentz added. The media roundtable is open to everyone, and the Council strongly recommends that the following groups, in addition to media representatives, attend: providers in all sectors of health care; teachers and administrators for all levels of education; legislators and policymakers; and peer providers and other individuals with lived experience.

Click here for more details and here to register to attend.

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