News /PEERS joins Entertainment Industries Council in statewide mental health education, outreach program
PEERS has joined a team of communications and community outreach organizations in a three-year program to end mental health stigma and stereotypes in entertainment and news media. Led by the Entertainment Industries Council, Inc., the effort aims to change public attitudes about people with mental health challenges and encourages individuals who are struggling to seek mental health services before problems become crises.
Funded by the Mental Health Services Act (Prop. 63) administered by the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA), the program is part of the Prevention and Early Intervention Statewide Initiatives designed to eliminate stigma and discrimination, prevent suicides, and improve student mental health. CalMHSA is an organization of county governments working to improve mental health outcomes for individuals, families, and communities throughout the state.
PEERS will play a role in working with news media and mental health stakeholders throughout California to encourage accurate and balanced reporting of mental health as well as gather stories of individuals who either live with or have recovered from mental health issues and are valuable contributors to society.
"We're both excited and honored to be a part of this important effort," PEERS Executive Director Khatera Aslami said. "Each party involved in this project is extremely accomplished at what it does, and we look forward to working closely with a professional, dedicated, and passionate team over the next few years."
Associate Director Lisa Smusz added that current PEERS media efforts are a natural fit for the project.
"PEERS has been tracking the media's depictions of mental health for many months through the Social Inclusion Campaign's media watch program," Smusz said. "Aside from our work impacting county efforts at eliminating stigma and discrimination, it’s good to know that we can also make a statewide impact and affect millions of additional people."
EIC will provide writers and producers of movies, television, and other entertainment with the information they might need to create accurate portrayals of characters with mental health issues that can help to minimize misconceptions and stereotypes.
"We know through our past work that the creative community has demonstrated an ability to help change attitudes about people who experience mental health challenges and encourage them to overcome the barriers they face every day that keep them from seeking help," said Brian Dyak, President, CEO and Co-founder of EIC. "We're excited to bring the industry together with news media and mental health stakeholders for targeted programs in the diverse communities of California that can really reach people and make a difference in their lives."
In addition to targeted programs in three urban areas in the state, the project will focus on outreach efforts in rural, minority, and other diverse communities. Other firms joining EIC and PEERS on the program include:
- Reingold—a communications and marketing firm with a 24-year track record of strategic communications, change management, and leadership mobilization for clients in every sector;
- Fischer Communications—a company specializing in social marketing, public and community relations, and strategic communications campaigns for nonprofit groups, public health departments, and government agencies;
- Hispanic Communications Network—the leading producer and distributor of educational and informational media serving U.S. Hispanic communities; and
- Chapman University—will provide evaluation services led by Lisa Sparks, PhD—a highly regarded teacher-scholar in the areas of communication and health—to measure outcomes from the program.