By Jennifer Cheang, MHA Digital Marketing Manager and America Paredes, MHA Senior Director of Partnerships and Community Outreach
Thank you all for joining us on a frank and honest discussion on your thoughts on media portrayal, messaging, mental health, outreach, and awareness – especially during Mental Health Month. ‘13 Reasons Why’ (13RW) provided a unique opportunity to catalyze the discussion and we thank you for your views, recommendations, and resources.
The event was viewed by over 10,000 people. The video was shared 189 times and received nearly 200 real-time comments that discussed different perspectives on mental health portrayal in the media and the importance of education, access, and support.
Mental Health America (MHA) received a significant number of inquiries asking for our position on the series, particularly since our 2016 Annual Conference theme focused on Media, Messaging, and Mental Health. But, as you may have noticed, MHA held off on a public statement on the series much longer than other national mental health organizations.
We did that with purpose.
We wanted our focus to be on engaging in an open conversation rather than releasing a statement. MHA prides itself on being a consumer-advocacy organization, meaning we value the voices of those with lived experiences – peers – and we wanted to ensure that peers were at the table as part of this discussion.
The 13RW discussion emphasized the need to talk through difficult subjects – to get our feelings out, to be heard, to bounce our perspective off others and see where our viewpoints or experiences fall in comparison. Even within our office, those who watched the series, either as peers, mental health professionals, caretakers, survivors, or family members, all had different positions on how they felt – all of which were valid and understandable.
As an organization, we felt it was important to not only enable conversation that involved varying perspectives, but we also wanted to share the great work that our partner organizations are doing as well to provide guidelines and active support in response to the release of the series.
We encourage you to watch the recorded Facebook Live discussion (we apologize for the technical difficulties) so that you can come to your own decisions about the series.
You can watch the Facebook Live discussion in full here.
Read through the comments, share your own, and think through the varying perspectives that were represented.
We aren’t here to tell you what to think when it comes to 13RW, because YOU know yourself, your experiences, your families, and your communities best.
Finally, since so many resources and information were shared as part of the discussion by MHA staff, we have pulled these together for your reference.
Mental Health Screens
Taking a mental health screening is one of the quickest and easiest ways to determine whether you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition. There are 10 professionally-validated screens, including a Youth Screen, that are anonymous and secure. Following screening, you will be provided with information, resources and tools to discuss the results with a provider.
The 2016 Mental Health Month #mentaillnessfeelslike campaign focused on helping individuals engage in conversation as a way to let others know how life with a mental illness feels. This sharing helps build support from friends and family, reduces stigma and discrimination, and is crucial to recovery. Whether you are in Stage 1 and just learning about those early symptoms, or are dealing with what it means to be in Stage 4, sharing how it feels can be part of recovery.
MHA’s Inspire Community
The Inspire community is a secure mental health support group where individuals with lived experience can interact with others, share their stories, and find support/advice. The option to remain anonymous is available.
Mental Health First Aid Training
You may know CPR and the Heimlich maneuver. You can call 911. But can you administer first aid in a mental health crisis? It’s easy to tell when someone is having a heart attack, is choking, or can’t breathe. But what does depression look like? Or anxiety? What would you say to a person you know who says they are thinking about suicide? How can you help in a panic attack? Getting trained as a Mental Health First Aider is a first step in helping you to be prepared.
13 Resources for “13 Reasons Why” by MHA President and CEO Paul Gionfriddo
Additional resources shared in the comments by viewers were catalogued in a previous blog post by MHA’s President and CEO, Paul Gionfriddo. Get the list of additional resources here.
Does new Netflix show send wrong message about suicide?
MHA of Lancaster County was interviewed by WGAL on ’13 Reasons Why.’ Executive Director Scooter Haase provides valuable talking points on the subject.
Crisis Text Line (CTL) connects individuals to Trained Crisis Counselors 24/7 via text-enabled support. Since the release of 13RW CTL shared that about 3.0% of CTL conversations have directly mentioned 13RW since the release on March 31st and that 67% of these texters are messaging into CTL for the first time.
The bottom line: CTL is helping a lot more new people due to 13RW’s influence.
If you are in crisis or just need someone to talk to, please text MHA to 741-741.
In discussions between the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Lifeline) and Netflix after the show debuted, it became clear that one of 13RW’s goals was to communicate to youth the idea that actions have consequences.
The Lifeline believes that it would be beneficial, regarding this series, to use this opportunity to share how individual actions can have a positive impact in the life of someone in crisis.
For example, the Lifeline’s #BeThe1To action steps are accessible, individual actions anyone can take to help someone who may be thinking of suicide. The campaign almost makes a point to share positive stores of recovery centered around connection and action.
Find out more about #BeThe1To here.
13RW also is an opportunity to share examples of how media and artists can address suicide thoughtfully. A great example of this is the work done by the rap artist Logic, who recently released a song about suicidal ideation that focuses on a message of hope, and shares the Lifeline phone number both in the song’s title and in his supporting promotional materials.
You can listen to the song here: 1-800-273-8255 by Logic
Watch the video of Logic explaining his song’s intentions and lyrics here.
Many important points that others brought up during the discussion that were incredibly insightful and valid. There are also links to resources and partners which were mentioned in the video.
What can I do to improve my local school environment?
The Department of Education’s School Climate Survey asks questions regarding treatment of students, social inclusion of students, whether they want to be there and how they feel about being there. The survey could be administered once a year and help school boards to determine how resources can be allocated to improve the measurements presented. It would help create an environment where the students don’t get to that point because they are happy and enjoy where they are.
Call your school administrators and the Board and recommend them to implement this important measurement in positive social and emotional skills that make both the administrators and students more mindful of how their actions can affect others in both a positive and negative way.
If you’d like to learn more about improving community mental health for K-12 children, contact Senior Policy Director Nathaniel Counts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the Creators of ’13 Reasons Why’: