Resources for Reporting on the Economy and Mental Health
The past four years have been a time of economic crisis. Individuals, families and communities have suffered the effects of high unemployment, increasing numbers of homeless families, foreclosures, shrinking wages, loss of health benefits, strained marriages, reduced social services and changing spending and saving habits.
These effects are wide-ranging and will likely continue for years to come. Community journalists have an opportunity and a responsibility to chronicle the mental health impact of our distressed economy. What are the mental stresses induced by the economic crisis and its effects? How do resulting mental health troubles breed and spread, creating community stress? How do these problems escalate to suicide? When does private agony become a public story?
This page provides resources to help journalists answer these and many more critically important questions. These resources are provided as part of a Specialized Reporting Institute (SRI), “The Economy and Mental Health,” co-hosted by Local Media Association and the Associated Press Media Editors on July 16‒17, 2012. The SRI was funded by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.
Reporting on Suicide
Reporting on Suicide: Principles for reporters writing about suicide
Preventing Suicide: A Resource for Media Professionals: Document published by the World Health Organization
Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide: Developed by several mental health, academic, and suicide prevention organizations
Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide: Best practices for media coverage of suicide developed by experts in suicide prevention
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: Organization active in suicide prevention
Research and Reports
American Psychological Association Stress in America survey
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Getting Through Tough Economic Times guide covers possible risks, warning signs, managing stress and more
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General: Download this free report on scientific research along the continuum of mental health and mental illness that addresses treatment, administration and policy, costs, consumers, privacy and confidentiality, ethics and values, and future visions
Bureau of Labor Statistics employment and wage trends
Bureau of Economic Analysis regional and metro gross domestic products (GDPs) by state, region or industry
U.S. Census Bureau business patterns by state, county or metropolitan area
Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) detailed population samples
Use of SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)
Weekly unemployment claims
National Institute of Mental Health reports on prevalence of mental illness by type and age group
Department of Health and Human Services statistics on inpatient stays
Department of Health and Human Services statistics on mental health hospitalizations
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration utilization and penetration rates of mental health services by state
National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting: Resources for investigative journalists; learn about data, how to find it and how to use it
Resources from the SRI
Community Response to Stress: People Have the Power: SRI presentation by Marian Frattarola-Saulino, executive director of Values into Action
Dealing with Data: SRI Presentation by Alex Richards of the Chicago Tribune
Managing Yourself and Your Newsroom: Tips from Tom Koetting of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
The Economy and Mental Health: Specialized Reporting Institute Action Plans: A compilation of action plans developed by participants in the SRI
Covering Mental Health Issues and the Recession: Watch this Webinar replay to learn to identify untold stories about stress, suicide and other mental health issues related to today's economy. Presented by Nancy Molitor, a clinical psychologist and assistant professor of clinical psychiatry and behavioral science at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.
Covering Communities in a Time of Change: Reporting With Patchwork Nation: Webinar replay that teaches you to use Patchwork Nation, an online project that brings data and community-contributed content together. It will help you and your news organization understand the dramatic economic, political and cultural changes in the U.S.
Covering the Budget Crisis in Your City or State: Webinar replay that teaches you to read and analyze a budget, how to dissect a union contract and how to generate stories that will stand out as governments attempt to provide services while trimming budgets and coping with reduced revenues
The Economy in Turmoil: Challenges to the White House, the Statehouse and Your House: Webinar replay that addresses coverage of the volatile, complex and confusing economic recession story
Census Coverage: Going Deep with Demographic and Economic Data: How to access the wide range of demographic, economic and other available census data to tell powerful stories about your community
Journalism and Trauma: Learn how traumatic stress affects victims and how to interview trauma victims with compassion and respect