UPDATED, 9 AM PT: MTV Entertainment Group has set Better Together: Mental Health Storytelling Summit to address the impact of storytelling on mental health. Additionally, WarnerMedia has signed on as a partner in the entertainment coalition committed to changing mental health representation.
Kenya Barris, Rachel Bloom, Liz Brixius, Margaret Cho, Andy Cohen, Charlamagne tha God, David Collins, Alex Gansa, Regina Hall, Hill Harper, H.E.R., Michael Imperioli, Lisa Ling, Nika King, Delroy Lindo, Chuck Lorre, Romany Malco, Miguel, DJ Nash, Sheila Nevins, Trevor Noah, Tig Notaro, Kevin Powell, Phor & Puma, Ally Sheedy will participate in the virtual summit set for May 3-5.
Better Together: Mental Health Storytelling Summit is produced by VIVA Creative in partnership with Ri-Karlo Handy of Sunwise Media as Executive Producer.
More information can be found here.
PREVIOUS, April 6: Big media companies led by ViacomCBS’ MTV Entertainment Group have teamed up with medical experts to form the Mental Health Storytelling Coalition, a partnership to address a rise in depression, anxiety and suicide — particularly in young people and exacerbated by Covid-19 — and how the entertainment industry can help.
“Data reinforces that changing the conversation about mental wellness and suicide prevention has never been more important — and the entertainment sector has a key role to play,” said the partners in an announcement Tuesday.
On the media side, the advisory council includes — alphabetically — Amazon Studios, Anonymous Content, AwesomenessTV, BET, CAA Foundation, CBS, CMT, Comedy Central, Endeavor Content, MTV, NBCUniversal, Nickelodeon, Paramount Pictures, Showtime, Spotify, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Starz, The Ad Council, Walt Disney, UTA Foundation, ViacomCBS, and VH1.
MTV Entertainment Group led the effort. “Media has enormous influence over how we collectively perceive and understand the most difficult issues in our society,” said Bob Bakish, CEO of parent ViacomCBS. “The mental health crisis impacts people of all demographics and geographies, and as content creators, it’s our responsibility to use our assets – through our stories, platforms and reach – to take action. Our ability to come together as an industry to meaningfully shift the narrative around mental health can transform the lives of people everywhere.”
Industry leaders, creators and celebrities will kick off the collaboration at the Mental Health Storytelling Summit the first week of May when they will unveil a first-of-its-kind comprehensive Mental Health Media Guide that provides “best practices and evidence-based recommendations to support storytellers at any phase in the production process, across topics and genres.”
“How mental health is portrayed in film, television and other popular media deeply impacts the public discourse about and perceptions of people with mental illness,” said Glenn O’Neal, Chief Communication Officer at the National Alliance on Mental Illness. “We’re proud to collaborate on this project so that the diverse experiences of people with mental health conditions are accurately represented, reducing stigma and discrimination.”
The coalition was created in partnership with the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at the University of Southern California.
“We were lucky to have formed a long term partnership with American Foundation for Suicide prevention, Dr. Christine Moutier and other mental health experts throughout 4 seasons of 13 Reasons Why and can share firsthand how rewarding and crucial these connections are,” said Joy Gorman Wettels, Partner at Anonymous Content of the Netflix series.
“We are committed to making more content that both promotes empathy and awareness around mental health while also normalizing and humanizing the valid experiences of those who live with mental illness,” she said.
“The Mental Health Media Guide will be an invaluable industry tool as it’s our responsibility as content creators to ensure authentic portrayals of mental health given the impact our narratives and characters can have on audiences,” agreed Janine Jones-Clark, Executive Vice President of Inclusion – Talent & Content, NBCUniversal.
Chris McCarthy, President of MTV Entertainment Group called the mental health crisis “the silent pandemic that has been on an alarming rise for the last decade.”
“We are so thankful to our partners for joining us in this coalition to unleash the power of storytelling to help shatter the stigma around mental health. As storytellers, we have the opportunity to represent the continuum of mental health and empower people to help themselves and each other, because mental health is health,” she said.
The Expert Advisory Council includes Active Minds, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, Born This Way Foundation, Entertainment Industries Council, National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Council for Behavioral Health, SAVE (Suicide Awareness Voices of Education), The Boris L. Henson Foundation, The Jed Foundation, The Trevor Project, Vibrant Emotional Health (administers of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline), Dr. Jessi Gold, Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, and Dr. Michael Lindsey