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NAMI CAMPAIGN STIGMA BUSTERS ALERT
NAMI Campaign to End Discrimination
Ms. Stella March
NAMI StigmaBusters, with its dedicated advocates across the country and around the world, are successfully fighting the pervasive and hurtful stigma that exists toward persons with mental illness -and- also commending print media, TV and films that send accurate messages to the public.
NAMI StigmaBusters now number 8,600. Numbers do count, so let your voice be heard.
WHAT A MONTH:
On June 6, 2002 more than 2,000 NAMI members and friends rallied at the U.S. Capitol, calling on Congress to pass legislation for Mental Health Parity. We are grateful for the leadership of Senators Pete Domenici (R-NM) and Paul Wellstone (D-MN) and U.S. Representatives Marge Roukema (R-NJ) and Patrick Kennedy (D-RI).
On June 26-30, NAMI holds its 23rd annual convention in Cincinnati, Ohio. I hope to see you there! Please visit the Communications and StigmaBusters kiosk in "NAMI Land" and/or attend the screening of the new documentary, "Imagining Robert: My Brother, Madness and Survival" on Thursday, June 27 at 12:45 in Room 203 of the Convention Center, where I will participate in the panel discussion that follows. On Friday, June 28, I also will moderate a convention workshop in Ballroom A (3rd floor) on "Overcoming Stigma in the Workplace."
- NAMI's Annual Media Awards
- Madeline Albright Confuses "Bipolar" and "Split Personality"
- Wendy's Classic Double Hamburger Cures?
- MTV's Straightjacketed Singer
- Responding to Your Comments
NAMI's Annual Media Awards
For the convention, NAMI has announced its annual outstanding media awards for fair, accurate, sensitive reporting or dramatic presentations involving mental illness. StigmaBusters are encouraged to praise recipients in personal notes, letters to editors of the newspapers indicated, or other public statements.
A special award to the movie "A Beautiful Mind" for the Year's Greatest Contribution to Public Understanding of Mental Illness (Universal Pictures, Dreamworks Pictures, and Imagine Entertainment) will honor John and Alicia Nash, author Sylvia Nasar, screen writer Akiva Goldsman, producer Brian Grazer, director Ron Howard, actor Russell Crowe and actress Jennifer Connelly.
Meanwhile, sales and rentals of "A Beautiful Mind" on video and DVD begin on June 25th, providing new opportunities for group discussion of schizophrenia and related issues.
Other awards include:
- Television Award for a Movie Drama--to the Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation "My Sister's Keeper"--to Don Hall, Jr., CEO of Hallmark, Inc., director Ron Lagomarsino, and actresses Kathy Bates and Elizabeth Perkins.
- Television Award--News Feature-to ABC "Nightline" producer Joe O'Connor for "A Troubled Mind" (March 22, 2002)
- Newspaper Editorial Award to Kate Stanley of the Minneapolis Star Tribune
- Investigative Reporting Award to Sara Shipley and Jim Adams of the Louisville Courier Journal for the series "Locked in Suffering: Kentucky's Jails and the Mentally Ill" (February-March 2002)
- Newspaper Feature Series Awards to Jeremy Olson of the Omaha World Herald for "Trust Betrayed: Failing Our Mentally Ill Children" (January 2002); Don Schanche, Jr of the Macon (GA) Telegraph for "Making Mental Illness A Crime" (January-February 2002); and Steve Twedt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for "It's A Crime How Mentally Ill Teens Are Trapped in Lock-Ups" (July 2001).
- Science & Health Reporting Award to Sharon Begley of Newsweek for "The Mystery of Schizophrenia: From Andrea Yates to A Beautiful Mind; The Faces of a Tragic Disease" (Cover story, March 11, 2002). Since that date, Ms. Begley has moved to the Wall Street Journal.
Madeline Albright Confuses "Bipolar" and "Split Personality"
SITUATION: Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, in a commencement speech at Tufts University Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy on May 20th, 2002 first referred to inconsistent Bush Administration foreign policy statements as "untreated bipolar disorder," which perhaps might have been considered an acceptable, even accurate metaphor--especially because she at least evidenced awareness that bipolar disorder is treatable. Unfortunately, Albright then stepped over the line by accusing the Administration in the next breath of having "a split personality."
ACTION: We have written Ms. Albright sharing StigmaBuster concerns over her rather unusual confusion. Neither bipolar disorder nor schizophrenia is the same as a "split" personality, which in fact, should be referred to as a multiple personality disorder.
Wendy's Classic Double Hamburger
SITUATION: A Wendy's TV commercial portrays a small support group therapy session with the leader calling on members to report. The last person confesses he had bought a Wendy's Classic Double with Cheese. "You might call me crazy, but it felt great!" he exclaims. The leader then claps and says "Bravo! Bravo!"
ACTION: We have advised Wendy's CEO that the commercial is offensive because it trivializes mental illness and therapeutic practice.
MTV's Straightjacketed Singer
SITUATION: MTV has been running a video from Mystikal's "Tarantual" album, featuring a soloist in a straitjacket singing "Bouncin' Back (Bumpin' Me Against the Wall)," as he bounces his head against the padded wall of a psychiatric unit.
ACTION: NAMI has raised concern over MTV's promotion of the video with the National Mental Health Awareness Campaign (www.nostigma.org) which has worked closely in the past with MTV in producing anti-stigma public service announcements targeted to youth. They have raised the issued with MTV, but to date there has been no response.
Responding to Your Comments
- The Internet has no oversight which means that no government guidelines exist like the FCC to report irresponsible language, portrayals, representations, etc. Many web sites do not even include the name and address of its owners. We can only focus on generally responsible, well-known companies or institutions that have Web sites on the Internet.
- If you need legal help please include the city and state where you live in your message so NAMI can refer you to an appropriate authority. Each state has different laws and regulations for employment, housing, education, etc. for persons with disabilities.
- We receive protests about books and films with language and portrayals that reinforce stigma against persons with mental illness. All writers are protected by the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment right to freedom of speech. They can write whatever they choose for their story, in print or on film. In turn, StigmaBusters have the right to protest publicly or to send letters to a writer, producer or publisher to educate them about the harmful impact of their work. Sometimes quiet diplomacy is preferable, especially to avoid generating excess publicity or promoting sales. Beyond protest, we hope to open and change minds. We sometimes succeed in educating adversaries, especially because 1 in 5 Americans experience a mental illness during their lifetime.
- We cannot protest every instance in which "schizophrenic" or "bipolar" is used to describe conflicting or "split" situations. In some cases, dictionaries even include such definitions, without reference to mental illnesses. We therefore only protest the most egregious misuse of such terms, usually in direct association with people with a brain disorder or an inaccurate description of the disorder.
Stella March, Coordinator
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