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New Zealand Mental Health Journalism Fellowships

Media Release

26 July 2002

New Zealand Mental Health Journalism Fellowships

For the second year running, The Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia, has shown its support for New Zealand's Like Minds project to counter stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness, by offering another two fellowships to New Zealand journalists.

"The Rosalynn Carter fellowships are a rare opportunity for New Zealand print and broadcast journalists with a minimum of two years professional experience to complete an investigative research project on mental health," said Gerard Vaughan, Like Minds Project Manager.

The fellowships will go to:

TVNZ journalist Lauren McKenzie, who will develop a three-part documentary looking at the human face of workplace stress. The first will address the impact on workers and their families. The second will examine how pervasive workplace stress is, and the third will look at what can and is being done to address the issue.

Capital Community Newspapers journalist Jim Chipp, who will investigate how the city of Porirua's mental health service providers acknowledge and take account of clients' cultural differences and what service gaps remain.

Dr Gregory Fricchione, former Mental Health Program director for The Carter Center, said they chose New Zealand to start its international mental health fellowship program last year, largely because of the high international regard for the Ministry of Health's "Like Minds, Like Mine" anti-stigma campaign.

The Fellowships aim to foster the development of better-informed journalists; encourage more accurate and expert reporting on mental health issues; and improve the depth and quality of mental health reporting in the news media.

They provide a stipend of NZ$12,000 for an agreed project on mental health issues without a reporter needing to leave their job. An essential element of the fellowship experience is compulsory, expense-paid travel at the beginning and end of the fellowship year, in September, to the Carter Center in Atlanta.

"At these meetings, they will rub shoulders with some of the United States' best journalists, and a fellowship advisory board that reads like a who's who of American mental health professionals," said Mr Vaughan.

The New Zealand member of the fellowship's advisory board, Mr Raymond Nairn, senior tutor in medical and health sciences at the University of Auckland, said, "Those of us who have organised the New Zealand part of the selection process have been pleased with the standard of applications. We are grateful to the Carter Center for providing this opportunity in New Zealand."

For more information contact: Tessa Castree, ph 025 802 622


Founded by former US President Jimmy and First Lady Rosalynn Carter in 1982, the Carter Center has a deep international involvement in human rights, democracy, and economic development advocacy. The Carter Center has monitored 30 elections in 20 countries, including the 1999 East Timor independence referendum, and has implemented human rights and economic development initiatives in many of these countries. Mrs Carter has been a leading mental health advocate for more than 30 years and started the Mental Health Program at The Carter Center. The Program promotes awareness of mental health and addresses public policy issues.

The US winners of the fellowships are:

Lila Corn, Education Producer WABC-TV New York, NY, USA Project: Produce a series of television reports on school mental health services that would include such topics as the gap between youth mental health needs, the services available, and school mental health programs.

Thomas Curwen, Deputy Editor Los Angeles Times Book Review Los Angeles, CA, USA Project: Write three feature-length stories for the Los Angeles Times exploring the roles impulsivity and mental illness play in contributing to the nearly 31,000 suicides each year in the United States.

Maura McDermott, Freelance Journalist Bronx, NY, USA Project: Write about the gaps in access to health care among young adults ages 18 to 21 with mental illnesses. She also plans to explore the world of adults who suffer from schizophrenia but have managed their illness and function well in their careers and relationships.

Eugene Richards, Freelance Photographer, Filmmaker, Writer, and Teacher Brooklyn, NY, USA Project: Create photographic essays, an educational video, and oral histories that will assess, document, and challenge the world's discrimination against and abuse of people who have mental illnesses. He will follow mentally disabled individuals in Mexico and Hungary who have been released from institutions to learn how they manage.

Edie Rubinowitz, Freelance Journalist Cambridge, MA, USA Project: Produce an in-depth radio report on the mental health care system in Cuba.

Shankar Vedantam, Reporter The Washington Post Washington, D.C., USA Project: Undertake writing projects, including a look at attention deficit disorder in children and what scientists have learned about the causes of schizophrenia.

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