Media & Mental Health: Our Words Matter

The Kennedy Forum’s annual meeting October 6 & 13 presents “Our Words Matter: Harnessing the Power of Communications to Advance Mental Health Equity.” The online event features leaders in communications, media, advocacy, and activism to discussing best practices and defining a clear path forward. The meeting will feature remarks from Patrick Kennedy, former congressman and founder of The Kennedy Forum; Representatives John M. Katko and Grace Napolitano, co-chairs of the congressional mental health caucus; and Senator Dick Durban.

Click here to register and attend “Our Words Matter”

From the The Kennedy Forum:

“Today’s society is hindered by an unconscious, implicit bias that fuels discrimination against those living with mental health and substance use disorders. Our words often reflect that bias, perpetuating negative stereotypes. Thus, the urgent need for more thoughtful, accurate communications about mental health and addiction that will open minds, connect communities, and empower policymakers. Now, more than ever, we must take steps to understand, nurture, and advance the role of communications in the fight for mental health equity. Normalizing a national conversation is key to lasting change.”

Program highlights October 6:

“Our Digital Reckoning: A Deep-Dive into the Past & Present of Mental Health in the Media”

For the first time in history, we’re seeing conversations about mental health dominate headlines, traditional journalism, celebrity news, hit songs, and Instagram posts. Media trailblazers, clinical experts, and activists come together to set the stage for the day: What got us to this critical moment, and what are the implications of finally pulling the realities of mental illness and substance use out of the shadows and into our headlines?

  • Kate Snow, Senior National Correspondent & Anchor, NBC News
  • Kari Cobham, Senior Associate Director, The Carter Center’s Rosalynn Carter Fellowships
  • Bruce Shapiro, Executive Director, The Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma
  • Mark Ishaug, CEO, Thresholds

“Generation Push Notification: The Impact of Ever-present Tech on our Mental Wellbeing”

We are well into the age of the 24-hour news cycle. Information constantly surrounds us. We no longer have to seek out news and media; instead tech companies continually feed us through sophisticated algorithms. Are these advancements creating efficiencies in our information consumption? Or is it creating a tech addiction and negatively impacting our mental health? This panel convenes experts from The Social Dilemma, a 2020 American docudrama film that provides a deep dive into how social media’s design is meant to nurture an addiction, manipulate individuals, and make us question the “truth.”

  • Dr. Anna Lembke, Chief, Stanford University Addiction Medicine Dual Diagnosis Clinic
  • Jonathan Haidt, Social Psychologist, New York University Stern School of Business
  • Renée DiResta, Technical Research Manager, Stanford Internet Observator
  • Eileen Guo, Senior Reporter for Tech Policy, Ethics, and Social Issues, MIT Technology Review

“Confronting Your Chaos and Using Your Platform for Change”

CNN’s Irish journalist, Donie O’Sullivan, earned praise for his reporting from the January 6th riot in Washington, DC and for his calm demeanor in the face of an angry crowd leading a violent attack on the U.S. Capitol building. But this measured reporter will also tell you that, “The most terrifying position I have been in in my life has been in my own mind in the grips of anxiety and depression.” This sincere discussion explores one reporter’s experience with mental health challenges and how he is using his platform as a high-profile journalist to engage others in honest, and sometimes difficult, conversations around mental health.

  • Donie O’Sullivan, Correspondent, CNN
  • Rhitu Chatterjee, Health Correspondent, NPR

“Gaming the System: An Influencer’s Approach to Promoting Mental Health Care”

By 2022, the online gaming market is expected to take in $196 billion in revenue, more than box office and recorded music revenues combined. Currently, there are over 2 billion gamers worldwide who seek out platforms such as Twitch and Caffeine to live stream their favorite gameplay. One influencer is using this platform to reach young people and discuss real life issues including mental health care and substance use.

  • She Snaps, Online Broadcaster, Podcaster and Mental Health Advocate
  • Ryan Jenkins, Anchor / Reporter, TMJ4 NBC Milwaukee

“The Weight of Gold: The Pursuit of Olympic Dreams and the Fallout”

Olympics athletes train for most of their lives for an opportunity on the world’s biggest athletic stage. When it’s over, many athletes face mental health challenges. Hear from Brett Rapkin, Director of the HBO Sports documentary The Weight of Gold, on the process and importance of sharing the mental health stories of Michael Phelps, Apolo Ohno, Shaun White, Lolo Jones, and others. Learn how the documentary inspired discussion about mental health issues, encouraged people to seek help, and highlighted the need for support.

  • Brett Rapkin, CEO & Founder, Podium Pictures
  • Jeremy Bloom, 3-time World Champion / 2-time Olympic Skier

Program highlights October 13:

“Barrier-Free Care: How the Digital Era Harnesses Online Communities and Accessibility to End Mental Health Stigma”

Technology has broadened our ability to engage individuals in wellness and mental health care. More and more, people are turning to apps, social media, podcasts, and more to learn and explore their own self-care. We talk to three leaders in the field who are breaking down traditional barriers in an effort to heal others.

  • Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, Licensed Psychologist, Author, Therapy for Black Girls
  • Jennifer Libby, Founder & CEO, Promly
  • Aidan Kohn-Murphy, Founder & CEO, Gen-Z For Change
  • Michael Puente, Reporter, WBEZ Chicago

“Separating Raven From The Hulk: One Olympian’s Story About Strength In All Forms”

Raven Saunders is a silver medalist in shot put at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. In her life, she won three NCAA collegiate titles in the shot put for the University of Mississippi, was a world junior medalist in 2014, and the Pan American junior champion in 2015. She holds a personal record of 19.96 m for the shot put. Raven is also a fierce advocate for mental health due to her own personal challenges and triumphs. She shares her story with NBC journalist, Char Adams, who helped to bring her into the media spotlight.

  • Raven Saunders, Olympic Silver Medalist
  • LZ Granderson, OpEd Columnist, The Los Angeles Times

“Speaking Your Truth: Courage and Authenticity in the Face of Online (and offline) Mental Health Stigma”

Join this intimate conversation with former Congressman Patrick Kennedy and Andy Cohen, Emmy Award-winning host, producer, and author best known as the host and executive producer of the Emmy-Nominated “Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen,” on Bravo. Throughout his career – spanning from network journalism, authoring bestselling books, hosting talk shows, and touring with Anderson Cooper – Andy has been exposed to many sides of the media and its impact on our popular culture. In this session, Andy will share his personal experiences in the field and offer perspective on how we can utilize media to change the conversation around mental health.​

  • Andy Cohen, Host & Executive Producer, “Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen”
  • Patrick J. Kennedy, Former Congressman (D-RI), Founder of The Kennedy Forum

“MindSite News: Shining A Light On Mental Health”

MindSite News is a new, editorially independent, digital publication focused on mental health, resilience and recovery. This new platform intends to translate science into accessible English and be written in a way that is powerful, authoritative, and engaging to both experts and the lay public. To shed more light on MindSite itself, James Burns, Interim Executive Director of The Kennedy Forum Illinois will sit down with Rob Waters, Founding Editor of MindSite News, to discuss this new platform and how it came to be. They will dive into details around editorial content curation and the distribution channels for this content, as well as how people can actively engage and contribute to this new, and important resource for the mental health community.

  • Rob Waters, Founding Editor, MindSite News
  • James Burns, Interim Executive Director, Illinois, The Kennedy Forum

“Our Words Matter: The Role of Journalists in Creating Safe, Human-centered Stories about Mental Health”

Although stereotypes and misperceptions regarding mental health and substance use disorders are pervasive, journalists can play an influential role in educating and informing the public about these public health issues and reduce the prevalence of sensationalized inaccurate information that fuels stigma and discrimination. Join this powerful discussion to learn how to promote responsible and fair communications in our media.

  • Dr. Steven Adelsheim, Clinical Professor, Director, Stanford Center for Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing
  • John Daniszewski, Vice President and Editor at Large for Standards, The Associated Press
  • Scott MacLeod, Co-Founder and President, The Sophie Fund
  • Christine Herman, Reporter, Illinois Public Media