A coalition of media companies has been formed to use their storytelling power to address the nation’s mental health challenges.
ViacomCBS units including MTV Entertainment Group, The Walt Disney Co., Amazon Studios, NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Starz are among those getting involved in the Mental Health Storytelling Summit, which will take place in May.
“The mental health crisis is the silent pandemic that has been on an alarming rise for the last decade and we are so thankful to our partners for joining us in this coalition to unleash the power of storytelling to help shatter the stigma around mental health,” said Chris McCarthy, president of MTV Entertainment Group. “As storytellers, we have the opportunity to represent the continuum of mental health and empower people to help themselves and each other, because mental health is health.”
The effort was created in partnership with the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at the University of Southern California.
The media companies, as part of the industry advisory council, will work with expert groups including Active Minds, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, Born This Way Foundation, Entertainment Industries Council, National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Council for Behavioral Health, SAVE (Suicide Awareness Voices of Education), The Boris L. Henson Foundation, The Jed Foundation, The Trevor Project, Vibrant Emotional Health (administers of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline), Dr. Jessi Gold, Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, and Dr. Michael Lindsey.
“How mental health is portrayed in film, television and other popular media deeply impacts the public discourse about and perceptions of people with mental illness,” said Glenn O’Neal, Chief Communication Officer at the National Alliance on Mental Illness. “We’re proud to collaborate on this project so that the diverse experiences of people with mental health conditions are accurately represented, reducing stigma and discrimination.”
Industry leaders, creators, and celebrities will kick off this collaboration at the Mental Health Storytelling Summit, which will include inspiring conversations, case studies and workshops.
The coalition will also unveil a comprehensive Mental Health Media Guide which provides best practices and evidence-based recommendations to support storytellers at any phase in the production process, across topics and genres.
“It is a privilege and responsibility to help shine a light on the importance of mental health through stories and shows including Grey’s Anatomy, black-ish, Love, Victor and A Million Little Things that run on our broadcast networks and streaming platforms,” said Craig Erwich, president, ABC Entertainment and Hulu Originals. “Feeling seen and understood is a powerful step toward seeking solutions, and we will continue to lean into the power of our storytelling and platforms to show support, raise awareness and change the narrative around mental health.”
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Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.