September 22, 2003

New class of mental health fellows chosen

Jon Moor is associate director of public information for the Carter Center.


A record 100 journalists applied for the seventh annual Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism—and two of them were Pulitzer Prize winners. The fellowships are part of an international effort by the Carter Center to reduce the stigma against people with mental illnesses and counter the often incorrect and stereotypical information provided through the media.

“Informed journalists can have a significant impact upon public understanding of mental health issues, as they shape debate and trends with the words and pictures they convey,” said Carter, former first lady and wife of former President Jimmy Carter. “They influence their peers and stimulate discussion among the general public, and an informed public can reduce stigma and discrimination.”

The 2003–04 fellows are:

Sewell Chan, reporter, Washington Post. His project will examine the District of Columbia’s efforts to build a stronger, community-based system of care for children with mental illnesses.

Gail Fisher, senior photo editor, Los Angeles Times. Using video and still cameras, she will explore and document how a family copes with a loved one diagnosed with a mental illness.

Kevin Heldman, freelance journalist, Brooklyn, N.Y. He will write a series of articles exploring the mental health concerns of the critically ill and their caretakers.

• Wray Herbert, assistant managing editor, U.S. News & World Report.
This project will explore how workers with mental disabilities are being treated under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Virginia Holman, freelance journalist, Durham, N.C. She will write an extended article on how children of parents diagnosed with schizophrenia have fared as a result of living with, and caring for, a loved one with a mental illness.

• Peter Klein, producer, CBS News’ “60 Minutes.” He will produce a documentary exploring the effects of trauma with Holocaust survivors and those left behind by Holocaust survivors’ suicides.

• Noel O’Hare, freelance journalist, Wellington, New Zealand. He will publish stories that consider the issues affecting the mental health of migrants in New Zealand.

• Alex Spense, freelance journalist, Auckland, New Zealand. He will investigate the relationship between mental illnesses and poverty in New Zealand.

Each domestic fellow receives $10,000 to study a particular issue within the mental health field for one year. The fellows convene at the Carter Center to meet with Rosalynn Carter, the center’s Mental Health Task Force, and the fellowship advisory board to discuss planned topics of study and present their projects to the same group a year later.

Past fellows have published newspaper articles, produced television documentaries and written books. Their projects have garnered awards from the National Mental Health Association and Amnesty International, as well as Emmy award nominations and two nominations for the Pulitzer Prize. Most recently, a fellow’s documentary was recognized by the Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Please visit for more information on the fellows and their projects.