September 15, 1997
Volume 50, No. 4
For so long I have wanted to raise public awareness about this issue and, perhaps, help further some reforms in this area," said Andrew Skolnick, associate news editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association. "Now, because of this golden opportunity, I can do a much more extensive investigation into my topic-and that's exciting."
The "golden opportunity" to which Skolnick refers is having been named one of five journalists from around the country to receive the first Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism.
Established earlier this year through The Carter Center's Mental Health Program, the fellowships are part of a national effort to reduce the stigma of mental illness and the discrimination that results. "Journalists in all forms of media play an increasingly important role in shaping public understanding and debate about mental health issues," said Program Director John Gates. "Activities, research and projects completed through this initiative will help combat stereotypical language and images that perpetuate stigma and discrimination. The fellowships, funded through the William Randolph Hearst Foundation, are a direct result of the more than 20 years Mrs. Carter has dedicated to helping people who suffer with mental illness. Her dedication and foresight are to be applauded."
The recipients, each of whom will receive an award of $10,000 to study a particular mental health issue for one year, will meet at The Carter Center Sept. 16 -18 with Rosalynn Carter, the Center's Mental Health Task Force and its Fellowship Advisory Board to discuss planned topics of study. Skolnick's topic is how people with mental illness are treated in the criminal justice system. Loren Ghiglione, director of Emory's journalism program, is among the advisory board members. "The quantity and quality of the first-year applications speak to the great need for such a program and to its importance for journalists," he said. "I am especially pleased by the diverse professional experience of the winners. I look forward to working with each of them."
Each fellow will be matched with an advisory board member who will provide expertise, support and guidance throughout the fellowship year.
Additionally, Emory psychology professor Elaine Walker and one of her students, Deborah Walder, helped develop a resource directory for the fellows to use in their research. The directory includes descriptions of the history, causes and treatments of major mental disorders as well as the addresses and phone numbers of key mental health organizations.
"Mrs. Carter and all members of the task force and advisory board look forward to a challenging and productive year as the fellows develop and finalize their projects," said Gates. "Their ideas and enthusiasm will serve to further much-needed work in the field of mental health journalism. The Carter Center's Mental Health Program is pleased to play a part in helping these journalists expand their knowledge in this area and to promote public understanding of how each of us can help diminish negative and hurtful stereotypes. Our congratulations to each of the recipients."
Other 1997 Rosalynn Carter fellowship recipients
Joel Kaplan, associate professor of the SI Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University
Joyce Newman, director of Consumer Reports Television
Leslie Sowers, health reporter for The Houston Chronicle
Leslie A. Winokur, freelance writer
Ann Carney is communications associate at The Carter Center.
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