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StigmaBusters Alert: Special Alert, April 27, 2004


Friday Night TV: "Reba" Tackles Depression

The Warner Brothers (WB) television network’s comedy-drama, "Reba," now in its third season, will explore the topic of male depression in episodes starting this Friday, April 30 at 8:00 pm EDT on WB. Please check your local listings.

Starring country singer superstar Reba McEntire, the show is about an "all-American family with a spirited Southern look at suburban dysfunction." Previously, Reba’s husband, a dentist, divorced her after 20 years of marriage and ran off with his dental hygienist.

"My character is going through a midlife crisis, examining why he’s been feeling what he’s been feeling and discovers that maybe some of the decisions he has made have come out of his being depressed," said Christopher Rich, who plays the ex-husband.

The upcoming episodes will walk a "thin line between comedy and drama," which as StigmaBusters know, often means a thin line between humor and stigma. Will they able to do it successfully, with accuracy, balance and sensitivity?

Male depression is a real concern, reflected in the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH) public education campaign, "Real Men, Real Depression."  The goal is to shine light on male depression.

The show’s intentions and messages thus far seem good.

"There’s a big stigma to it," said Rich. "A lot of men don’t want to admit it. They feel weak if they have to admit to depression. They think it is their lot in life. The funny thing is if more people understood that depression really is caused by a chemical level of serotonin in the brain, they’d realize it’s not their fault. It’s a true problem. It’s not a flaw in the person."

StigmaBusters are encouraged to share reactions once the episodes begin.


Kevin Abbott, Producer
Reba McEntire, Co-Producer
The "Reba" Show
20th Century Fox
Building 38, Room 125
10201 West Pico Boulevard
Los Angeles, California 90035



The radio commercial stated, "I am hearing voices about the food at McDonald’s. I am hearing voices telling me to go to McDonald’s. I better listen to them. I am not crazy!"

McDonald’s response when we contacted them was:

"Thank you for contacting McDonald’s. I'm sorry you're disappointed with a recent radio commercial. We would never purposely offend any of our customers, and we certainly appreciate being made aware of your concern. I hope the explanation below helps you understand how our radio advertising is developed.

McDonald’s has 21 regional offices throughout the U.S. who work together with local advertising agencies to produce hundreds of radio commercials to reach the diverse range of customers we serve. Most of our radio commercials are targeted to the public at large. However, sometimes radio commercials target specific groups (young children, teenagers, various ethnic groups, etc.). This decision is made locally and the ad itself is developed locally to reach a particular audience in a radio market.

Customer feedback is very important and helps us to improve our business. Please know that your comments have been shared with the McDonald's regional office responsible for airing the commercial you heard."

McDonald's Customer Satisfaction Department


TAKE ACTION: Contact McDonald’s and let them know how these types of advertisements affect people with mental illness and their friends and family members and contribute to stigma.

The e-mail address is: You may send your message to the attention of Leslie.


The following are points you may use:

* Many of our 220,000 members have a son, a daughter, a spouse, a sibling or a parent with a severe mental illness. Many have personally experienced a severe mental illness and struggle with "voices telling them" what to do.

* The President’s Commission on Mental Health and the Resource Center to Address Discrimination and Stigma (ADS Center), part of the Center for Mental Health Services of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, have placed a high priority on erasing the stigma that reinforces public prejudice and discrimination instead of understanding and support as individuals recover and return to the community.

* One in four individuals will suffer a severe mental illness during their lifetime.

* As a responsible international corporation, we hope you will withdraw this offensive commercial.

* We don’t believe you would use a commercial similarly associated with symptoms of disorders like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer, diabetes, or other illnesses.


We appreciate your support. Your efforts do make a difference! To join, just visit our Web site, Numbers count!

Stella March, National Coordinator
NAMI StigmaBusters







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