NJ Governor’s Council on Mental Health Stigma Hosts Media Roundtable

September 26, 2022

Dr. Otto Wahl, Author of Media Madness: Public Images of Mental Illness, to Deliver Keynote and Anti-Stigma Guidelines at this Event October 3, 2022

After a hiatus of several years, the Governor's Council on Mental Health Stigma* was reactivated in January 2022. Under the leadership of its new chair, Debra L. Wentz, PhD, President and CEO of the New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies and Executive Director of the New Jersey Mental Health Institute, the Council is undertaking a number of initiatives, with its first official event since it reconvened being a media roundtable, to be held virtually on October 3, 2022 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. via Zoom.

"With the proliferation of anxiety, depression, co-occurring and other mental health disorders, never has there been a better and more necessary time for the Governor's Council on Mental Health Stigma to reconvene and work to end stigma and discrimination and ensure health equity for all," Dr. Wentz stated.

"Stigma is the greatest barrier that prevents individuals from seeking help for mental illnesses, and the media play a profound role in shaping the public's understanding - and, in some cases, misunderstanding - and opinions about all issues. This media roundtable is an important opportunity for media representatives to portray mental illnesses and individuals who have them in the most accurate and positive way possible," Dr. Wentz said.

"The images of psychiatric disorder that are presented to public audiences shape their attitudes and influence their behavior. When those images are unfavorable and inaccurate, as they often are, they contribute to the stigma and discrimination that represent formidable barriers to treatment and recovery," wrote Otto F. Wahl, PhD, Professor Emeritus at the University of Hartford, in the preface of his book, Media Madness: Public Images of Mental Illness. Dr. Wahl will share many important observations of how mental illnesses and individuals who have them are depicted in the media, as well as guidelines, during a keynote presentation at the media roundtable.

"The roundtable will provide essential information and guidelines that not only news reporters, editors and producers must have, but also individuals in all other roles and situations, as their perspectives on mental illness impacts them in their professions and personal relationships," Dr. Wentz added. The media roundtable is open to everyone, and the Council strongly recommends that the following groups, in addition to media representatives, attend: providers in all sectors of health care; teachers and administrators for all levels of education; legislators and policymakers; and peer providers and other individuals with lived experience.

Media Representatives and Individuals with Lived Experience to Share Equally Important Insights
Following his keynote presentation, Dr. Wahl will moderate a panel discussion during which representatives from various media outlets and individuals with lived experience.

The panelists are:
- Valerie Canady, Publishing Editor, Mental Health Weekly
- Emily Grossman, MA, CPRP, NYCPS-P, Member, New Jersey Governor's Council on Mental Health Stigma and Training Director, Coordinated Behavioral Care, New York
- Shauna Moses, Vice President, Public Affairs and Member Services, New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies
- Lilo Stainton, Healthcare Writer, NJ Spotlight News
- Marie D. Verna, MPAP, President, Dominion Behavioral Health Policy, LLC

Please click here to register to attend this event.

For additional information, please contact Shauna Moses at 609-838-5488, ext. 204, or smoses@njamhaa.org.

* Members of the Governor's Council on Mental Health Stigma are:

Debra L. Wentz, PhD, Chair

Heidi Castrillon
Emily Grossman, MA, CPRP, NYCPS-P
David B. Jacobs, CPA
Rev. Jose C. Lopez
Sam Maddali, RPh
Amy Spagnolo, PhD
Susan Tellone, RN, MSN, CSN
Dr. Janon Wilson, LPC, ACS, HS-BCP

Since its inception in November 2004 under an executive order issued by then Acting Governor Richard J. Codey, the Governor's Task Force on Mental Health Stigma has been working diligently toward the goal of combatting mental health stigma as a top priority in order to create a better mental health system. The Council members represent a diverse stakeholder group from across the state who provide a variety of expertise and critical perspectives to ensure a holistic approach to examining and striving to overcome the challenges and issues facing New Jersey's richly diverse population.

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