This is the transcript from our public education event for journalists and journalism students held in September 2023.
Hi. Good evening, everyone. Good evening. My name is Matt Kudish.
I’m the CEO of NAMI-NYC and it’s my pleasure to welcome you all this evening to a panel on mental illness, suicide, and the media.
We’re excited to have a discussion around the ways in which serious mental illness is reported in the news and also about the toll that kind of reporting takes on the journalists themselves.
We’re really excited to have a really rich conversation led by our friend and fierce mental health advocate Cindy Hsu from CBS and I want to thank her for being here. She’s also told her story quite publicly as a suicide attempt survivor. There’s a QR code in the program of that story. I would encourage you to watch it.
We love NAMI New York City to shine a light on individuals who come forward and talk about their experiences because we know when we do that it gives permission to other people to do the same.
So that no one is living in the shadows and struggling on their own. At NAMI New York City, we like to say you are not alone. And I think talking about your story really exemplifies that fact. So thank you for being here and for being so brave to share your story so openly.
I also want to thank Alyssa and Andy and Caroline and Jacqueline, our esteemed panel of, some of the best reporters and the health reporters were so grateful to each of you for taking the time out to join us tonight. And I want to thank Columbia’s Department of Psychiatry and the New York Press Club for being here.
With us this evening and also helping to spread the word about the event. We’re really grateful. This is our first hybrid event, those of you in the room don’t know it maybe, but there are other people at home watching on Zoom and we’re so grateful to all of you, and for being, and you taking advantage of the technology, to join us tonight. Thanks so much.
So, a little bit about NAMI-NYC, for over years we have provided programs and services all free of charge to families of individuals who are living with mental health challenges and to individuals themselves who are living with mental health challenges and mental illness.
The statistic that we often hear is that one out five of us is living with mental illness. As a family and peer-based organization, we like to say that that statistic only tells part of the story. One out of five of us is living with mental illness, the other four are our family members, our friends, our neighbors, our colleagues, all of us are affected by these issues, and the more we talk about mental illness, openly and publicly and vulnerably, the more, as I said, permission we give to those who are in the shadows and struggling alone can understand that there’s a community of people that are living with a mental health condition or care about someone who is there for you who understands and who gets it.
That lived experience is really at the heart of everything we do at NAMI, New York City. So for all of you and all of you and all of you, if you are struggling or someone you care about is struggling, please know that our organization is here to help you with an array of programs and services from our helpline to our education classes to our 40 support groups, all available to you at no cost. There’s no reason not to connect, navigate the waters that you that you are going through.
We know that suicide and suicidal thoughts are what… Americans a year consider suicide and we want to make sure that those That’s to meeting sources and support so, they know that they also are not alone. Suicide prevention is also a strategic priority for us here at NAMI, New York City. We’re developing new programs all the time to address suicidality, programs for people who are living with thoughts of suicide like our recently launched “Living with thoughts of suicide” support group and are also recently launched “Living with thoughts of suicide family and friends” of individuals who have either thinking about suicide or who have attempted suicide and survived.
We’re also going to be developing more robust suicide prevention education programs in the future, not just for individuals and families, but for businesses as well, because we know that ways in which companies respond to suicides either preventively or post-vention could use additional supports. We’re really excited to fill that gap in the coming year as we develop new programming in that way.
I mentioned our Helpline and I want to make sure everyone knows that that phone number is (212) 684-3264 – I like to say it’s the only number you need you don’t need what questions to ask just call and our helpline is staffed by volunteers and staff who have lived experience as peers and then also as family members.
Tonight, the conversation that Cindy will facilitate will take about 40 min. There’ll be time for questions from the audience. And I also want to let you know we’re recording the event and it’ll be available on our YouTube channel. So, if you miss it or you want to share the recording with a friend, you’ll be able to find it there shortly.
And for more resources, you can scan the QR codes. We have around or you can visit naminyc.org/reporters and find more resources for you and perhaps for other people in your life. Lastly, if you need a restroom, it’s right out this door on your right, there’s also a water fountain there, and please remember there are refreshments for you there as well.
I thank you again for being here and without further ado, I’ll turn it over to Cindy.
So, I was just saying, my name is Cindy Shu. I’ve been with Channel News for the 3rd year, and I anchor a 9 AM show Monday through Friday that focuses on uplifting news and I got to tell you that has really helped my mental health not covering the death and destruction every single day.
As Matt mentioned, I am a suicide attempt survivor and I am, this is one of my huge missions now that I’ve learned so much about it and there is hope at the end of the tunnel and that’s really my message and also, I’m on the National Board of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
So, let’s meet our other panelists. My name is Andy Newman. I am —– reporter at the New York Times. I covered social services, homelessness and mental illness. My lived experience insists largely of having several family members we would struggle with bipolar disorder and various kinds of diagnosis, so this is very close to me.
My name is Alyssa Katz. I’m executive editor of The City. The City at NYC, we’re a non-profit newsroom covering New York City, and before that where I started, — I was as an editorial writer. So, my lived the experience is primarily as a parent. Many teenagers right now are really doing remarkably well right now after getting treatment but really struggled through adolescence, then COVID hit, yeah, the isolation, all of that is a real crisis right now.
My name is Caroline Lewis. I’m a health care reporter for —. And I cover, you know, policy. There’ll be a lot of different things — putting mental health. And I would say my, lived experience is sort of limited to people with mental illness. So, I know, you know, whether that’s friends or what they’re reporting. But I said, I guess that’s why I always want to hear from people.
Cindy: Thank you. Wanted to start with what role you think the media plays in the stigmatizing mental illness and how our reporting and can serve as education even a suicide prevention tool. And anyone can just jump in.
Alyssa: Okay, I will. I’ll start because I didn’t mention, board that I started writing while they have the daily news and Mental health coverage is daily news certainly when I got there it was day to day kind of, — company, crime disorder and you know, what was happening on today who got shoot on subway tracks or another random events daily is also police killing people with mental illness, such as you know, and at another end of things also, you know, police killing people with mental illness.
And I just learned in his editorial and realizing that there were some more that we could do. Apologizing mental illness and treating it as a crime issue, was just, you know, really toxic — So, you know, in my case, I began writing just about situations that they just kind of came into my life.
And so one was that I had two neighbors who died -young women- who died within a week. One have died by an overdose and another have killed herself. And, I ended up in a kind of finding NAMI-NYC for something they were promoting, so they were offering mental health workshops. I signed up for one and — just about, well, what I’ve seen with my neighbors and what we can all do. And part of the first day, of the workshop just, one of the first things they taught us in the beginning is to just ask: “are you thinking of killing yourself”.
And so I wrote this column saying that, you know, describing the training group at it and talking about that and then from there we went on to other —, but I think it was just really that something — coming back.
Caroline : Yeah, I think, for me. A lot of the way that I decided to stigmatize mental illness is just by like trying to hear from people with mental illness as long as possible and saying like, they don’t have it as soon as like the follow-up — kind of like they’re risking themselves. And it really goes back to like the way I actually got into video in the first place.
I was studying in many years ago and research project and I just mentioned this. We did a video program that was recording women from within the psychiatric hospital by like current and — agents and like the more agents would come back to report, and I think before that I didn’t really think about that. You don’t usually hear from people with Mental illness, and they don’t get to see for themselves for this also won’t produce a video show. And like why is that and like, also, you know in addition to realizing like oh is there great opportunities for people to see. (could not hear entirely) I also realized that it was sort of my first experience in a community space like that, like a mental health community space where it was like, and when we sort of view themselves and talk about whatever they wanted and have actually like a sense of humor about themselves and like the people around them like oh like you’re needing more stuff that you say like let me know.
Andy: I think that we have a lot, as journalists, to offer. Even in stories where we’re not evil, speaking to someone with mental illness, trying, portraying person as a person, an arc of a life and not just as this, you know, kind of headline figure that is like here’s the guy. It’s like, no, this is someone who did a million other things, you know, before that and, and we need to understand this is a human being not a monster.—
Cindy: How do you approach reporting on sensitive topics like suicide and mental illness to ensure responsible reporting?
Andy: And so, I did a story early recently about a guy who has a history of schizophrenia who’s involuntarily hospitalized for several months. And you know, in writing that story, I interviewed him a bunch of times and this question after coming up like when you get someone capable if someone with a serious mental illness capable of giving you consent to be in a newspaper story, and so that was something else, trying to be real and —, talk to the social workers and case members who work with them and just try to make sure that I wasn’t putting the guy sort of out on the land but letting him have his voice. Helping him tell a story and not just, you know, —
Cindy: I think it’s also really helpful to have organizations like NAMI and FSP where you can talk to the experts and say ”hey, I’m doing this story, are there some guidelines I should know about?” Because even the language we use in our stories is so important. So that’s another thing I think journalists really should reach out to these to the experts, and pass things by them because there’s things that are so surprising that I learned ever since you know I came into this world.
Alyssa: So, a lot of the mental health coverage I’m involved in right now is, is a project that, we’ve been working on — from public on — use mental health in New York State. It’s really about the downsides and shut down. About facilities, the psychiatric hospitals, you name it, that’s, and, and so a lot of what I focused on, — groundwork —
So then if you have, you know, there’s, there’s sort of the double consent issue, you’re dealing with adults, there’s sort of a double consent issue when you’re dealing, Oh, you know, you’re primarily working parents. You know, it’s not, this, when, where, hearing, sending, or the child is presenting, then we do it through children, in other cases the family wants to deal with our reporter so you just try as much as we can to really walk the families through like questions of how they will be identified or not, I think that’s an interesting aspect, you know, stigmatizing mental illness at the same time, people will often ask for, other considerations of their privacy and we will, grant, but, — absolutely, and usually we deal with a lot of, very, and we, so we, engage a lot of very, you know, the stuff around, what is it they want and also another important thing is just documenting, what they’re, you know, the experience you’re talking about, their hospitalizations and so on. And so, it requires not only these involved discussions but also obtaining very personal and private medical records to cooperate their stories.
And so, it again is building that relationship, building that trust, and there are times where we don’t get what we want as journalists, and we have to work around, and it’s also add it off and just say —
Caroline: Yeah, I agree. I mean, you know, — not being enough of a relationship with someone that you can tell when they’re like feeling a little off and like when they may not be comfortable making sure you’re explaining the process, but also going through — because they’re like, okay, like this person is — for instance, club houses like that’s a good place — Like I try to work with organizations for people are empowered you advocate for themselves and so they are used to like having a voice and speaking out on things and so I think that it’s like helpful —
You’re there. I’m in the sort of language.
Cindy: How do you handle, you know… we work with words, so language choices when we’re doing these stories, to you know, to avoid further stigma.
I’ll just start with a few things. First of all, these different groups we’ve been talking about, NAMI and AFSP and all these experts, a lot of them have, like a sheet on their website that says: “This is responsible reporting about mental illness.”
Things like: “don’t say somebody committed suicide.” You know, “someone died by suicide.” They’re not committing a crime. It’s, you know, it’s an illness. Things like not… When you cover somebody who’s taking their life, you don’t talk about what the manner is.
And even weird things like, I tend to like work on not using the word “crazy”. Just even in my own daily life, “crazy” or “I’m so depressed”, you know what I mean? Because these things really mean things. So just careful about that and what are some other ways that you handle covering the stories and the language you choose.
Andy :So that’s something that the Times does, and this is a relatively, recent innovation is the for the last few years they’ve had something called “the standards gas” and whenever you’re writing about certain sense divisions, the story has to be read by one of their editors and they have training in the kind of the language choices that you are talking about. There will be things that I write that I felt was okay and my own story editor was okay, and the standards desk was like, “No, this is an insensitive way to work something, can you say it this way instead?”
I don’t know if other news outlets have those kinds of like mayors of eyes on it, but I think it’s a helpful thing.
Alyssa: Yeah, definitely. I know, you know, my newsroom, we just kind of want to be honest and it really ends up being like, most of our stories, just editors making a call on deadline and hoping for the best and maybe we will never, to put that little advisory in the end of the story, mentioned suicide saying if you were thinking of: “da da da” and we do do that and we take it seriously, but it’s I did it like it’s just I use your, the, yeah, we, just kind of, those calls that we — And try to be also just yeah like the, try to just be respectful.
Caroline: Yeah, I mean, I, I must be such a treatment process, honestly, like I think I often try to be really careful about my list, but then things get changed in the editing process and like it really depends who’s the last to go over the headline whether they go with you know person centered language or like shorten it to something where you’re just saying like: “they’re mentally ill” you know so that can obviously be frustrating at times but like I think it is important to like an online conversation as a Zoom room because everyone’s coming from different backgrounds. Like, you know, — and, some people are more from public radio background so, I think it’s like important as a journalist, — So, I think it’s like important as a journalist, people to talk about things, especially if you’re like, oh, this is like theory I’ve always covering and you’re like —
Cindy: Well, one thing I do is, you know, any time something big happens, somebody took their lives, I will send out a sheet from one of the organizations that have the reporting guidelines to a boss who will then send it to all the reporters. So that way we all are on the same page because a lot of people just don’t know. I mean, I had no idea until I went through it myself and then I kind of dug into the community.
Let’s talk about any success stories or examples of responsible reporting on mental health that had a positive impact on the audience.
Andy: This is where we’re supposed to blow our own part.
Cindy: Blow it, go, go!
Andy: A good story: Last year about Marshall Simon, the man who pushed the woman in front of the train and in that story it laid out something which we seemed to write about like every 5 to 10 years, but this was our time to write about it again, which is the fact that people with severe mental illness kind of go through this revolve, especially if they’re homeless or otherwise, super marginalized go at these revolving doors with this hospital system and the jail system and all this, and in that story, I quoted from this report by a social service agency called Bronx Works where they laid out all these examples of people that they were trying to get help for who they kept getting them sent to the hospital and then it would just get dumped out the very next day and the people of Bronx, told me that that is one of the things that was driving the city to get with city-run hospitals to be much more much more diligent about keeping people until they’re stable or just treating them more robustly than they were doing before and they were just literally, is charging them the day that they are brought in without helping them.
Alyssa: I will let the, have a success story, but that this is actually based on, that came out at Cabi gales for the first story with was a family, and in that story, this is about a child who had repeated said, yeah, to hospitalizations, but could not get —
And, in this case, both the mother and child were not identifiable in the article — based on their own privacy, but after the article came out, she actually went to state attorney generals…Mental illness in the stage’s response. And this mother went and testified at one of the hearings does herself get open and became an activist as a result of this work, which wasn’t an objective of the story, but was a very happy ever after.
Caroline: This is less about outcomes, but more just like navigating through sensitive. Like reporting territory which is that last year I was reporting on a story that was brought to me by staff from a psychiatric hospital or from a — where they were just talking about like a lot of violence summit unit and I think they were talking about — being violent, You know, rather, where they were just talking about mental illness and the stage response — For me, it was like a really sensitive area because I think it was always working to like not appreciate people with mental illness as violence around the unit, but it was like a real issue that they were raising and they got a lot of documents to know it, but I really didn’t want it to be this one side thing about this.
But I think It was more of the time where , and people with mental illness and I think It was helpful at the time that I’ve already like, new people, you know, with severe mental illness, who’d been in a hospital where you were, you know, good to speak for themselves and you could speak about this in the nuanced way as well as outside.
You know, psychiatric experts — couldn’t play it on like sort of there, the people who works there’s some theories about, — for why treating people in a hospital and here’s where they’re all short, and I think just like at the time I was really worried about striking that balance when I was writing the story, but I think it behind those people too just like —
Cindy: I’ll just say so as journalists I think it’s… we don’t want to talk about ourselves. Like, don’t put yourself in the story. So, when I decided to share my story about depression and suicide attempt, it was really scary because you’re so afraid how people are going to react.
So, I just sat down with my colleague, Dana Tyler, who’s a fellow anchor. And we just said, we had no questions, you know, we didn’t talk about what we were going to talk about. And we sat there and we just talked openly for 30 minutes, and I thought, okay, I’m going to look over this tape and, you know, a normal news story on TV is about a minute and a half, 90 seconds.
So, I thought, okay, if we’re lucky maybe we’ll get 4 minutes out of this so we can cut it down to a 4 minute thing but it turned down that it was so compelling that they ran all the 30 minutes straight, and it was called Breaking the Stigma and it was the first time the station had run. They like blew out half of the clock news to air this alone. And then, and then they started doing that with other important issues, George Floyd and other things.
So, I think it’s really good to think out of the box and then from there the station really took on mental health as a huge cause and we are really focusing on that as a station so I think the other big thing is if it’s something that you think is important, you need to get to the bosses and explain to them why it is and you know hopefully you can get them behind you and then also be able to help their own staff.
Because very much of what was happening with me was stress at work. So, I’m wondering what you all do to help yourselves in dealing with a lot of the negative news that we cover. Day after day, year after year for your own mental health.
Andy: I sort of do two different things that are, that seem almost opposite to each other. One is that when I’m reporting a story like where you’re writing just about a lot of someone’s pain and suffering and you’re talking to family members, you’re talking to people who’ve been through things, you have to let yourself. Feel that and if it means crying along with someone then provide along with them and it will help you to kind of not keep it bottled up inside which is when things start to elevate at you.
On the other hand, because I’m a reporter and reporters have this like gene that makes them kind of able to step aside and observe things, I think sometimes I am able to kind of part of analyze, and, for whatever reason not let things get to me, but it’s sort of like trying to find a balance or doing one or the other.
I do cry as much as I can to let myself feel while I’m working. Here’s that’s the one way you can stay sane.
Alyssa: I take that kind of engagement with subjects and go places where you’re not really supposed to go with a journalist.
But, for example, if somebody is like ideally profile mother and son, where the son has repeatedly did it in and out of secondary care and the criminal justice system and my, is an adult and his mother has struggled for years to figure out how to get in care and no one’s going to stay off the month — It’s for us to do that.
And there’s times where she reaches out to me and it still does, seeking advice and you know; we’re trained that here’s a question you know, we’re trained that you’re supposed to, stick with covering the story, but there are definitely times where I said, look, you know, I am playing this role, just remember that there’s definitely times where I said, look, you know, I’m playing this role, just remember that, you know, I’m here to write about, you guys, but you know, have you thought about calling it?—
And I think it’s both ethically and journalistically defensible to do that. I’m not altering the course of the story anymore than, you know, —, and to me that makes me feel like I’ve done a responsible job.
Caroline: Well, I agree with what you guys said. I mean, I think that I also feel like I am usually able to compartmentalize and sometimes it clips on very suddenly that I’m like emotionally affected by just hearing like, you know, interview after interview hearing about like something dramatic. For instance, in a given day and you’re just like, you don’t realize — and so I think like, yes, like to Andy’s point, and this, and sort of feel that, okay, — So there are stories where someone will, you know,constantly — super responsive to keep the relationship going and then other things like I feel like okay if I let this fly for a little bit make it clear that, like I’m not fully available, like, and that’s okay. And I think like making sure people have reasonable expectations of like, —
Caroline: — there’s also two things that I do, I think. Sometimes doesn’t allow the boundaries setting, especially if you’re working — And so, taking breaks is really important. Also knowing when to stop. And then on the other side…
Cindy: And I would just say just take care of yourself. You know, even after all these years I’m on medication, I still see a therapist that’s very important to me, and it may be for the rest of my life and that’s fine. And then also, like you said, take time for yourself and if that means a mental health day, take it. Because I think the problem is we’re so driven to the deadline and we think we’re gonna get fired or we think the story is not going to come out right and that’s what happens is you hit rock bottom and that’s what happened to me so just take care of yourselves and and know that you know it’s weird it wasn’t until that happened and then I left work for many months and was hospitalized and all that that I’d never been off work that long. And they realize, oh my gosh, there’s other stuff going on out here. You know, there’s this deadline story I’m doing. So, it’s good to realize that it’s not all about that. It’s really about taking care of yourself and your family.
Alyssa: I just wanted to also give a shout out to the dart center at Columbia University Journalism school what it does and it works for probably on journalism and Trauma but definitely they need to do a lot of work on journalism stuff here how we deal with recovering…
Cindy: So now, do you guys have any questions?
People from the public: I wanted to know, what made you make the decision to come forward and why that was still in time? And have you seen a positive influence impact on other people? And have you seen a positive influence impact on? You know, other people.
Cindy: Thank you for that question. Oh, of course. So, what is your name, maim?
Person from the public: — I actually am at Columbia’s psychiatry.
Cindy: Oh, well, thank you for the co-sponsor. Carla asked, why did I decide to come out with my story? and specifically at the time that I did, why did I decide to come out with my story and specifically at the time that I did, which was I think , years ago, And I think it was because with COVID everyone was going through issues and it was such a you know a topic that I felt like I can relate to this and I don’t know, I guess I just, I felt like it’s something people could really relate to and now it’s the time. It had happened in 2015, so a few years had gone by. I felt in a very good place. That’s another important thing is that you need to be ready before you come out with your story, you know. So, but, but yeah, it was because it was, it was COVID time. And the, the reaction I would, I was shocked. I mean, it really touched a lot of people and was very positive response of people who can relate, and you know or are dealing with their children and you know have opened up such conversations so I’m so grateful that I did come forward, but it was really nerve-wracking, but, I’m really happy and I know we did good work and I know we’ve changed lives.
Andy: I’m curious, did you get any negative response at all? Did anyone say you should not?
Cindy: You know, no. Nobody at the station said that.
Andy: Or out in TV land?
Cindy: I think it might have been on YouTube, so I read a couple comments and then I was like: oh, forget those people.
So yeah, there’s some little some wacky people, but I tend not to read comments. That’s one of the ways that I stay in my happy bubble is I might post something and then I just like let it go. So, but no, it really has been very positive response. And if they, if they’ve been negative, I actually haven’t seen too much of it.
Person from the public Yes. my name is — so I also came out about being depressed and my own societal attempt to as in or million Chinese audience. That was 2 years ago. Like the response I got I also like really great but Like one of the issue I had at them was like I didn’t like calling myself bipolar, but that was like the first — of my spur because my boss was like Okay, you need to say this our loss is very confusing, but Like, I fit all the criteria but I have, I don’t like the diagnose. I don’t like the current diagnose. Like I have about that. So, but like I, at the end of day, I compromise because, you know, it’s my boss. But I said it’s actually a question for everyone. I just like for future reverse because I still like still going to do a story like that. If you guys have my editor or boss, how would you? It’s like, you know, I first this issue, how do I navigate?
Because I’m gonna talk about that. So, okay, I don’t want to call that a little bit. I don’t know how to. Hi, how do we address that?
Cindy: So, the question was face, right? Who was the broadcast producer in China and shared her story of suicide attempt and mental health issues with her audience, but had a boss who said, we don’t want you to put in the story that she is bipolar.
Right? Or did want you to put it in, but you didn’t feel comfortable. Okay. Right.
Cindy: Right, so, she’s saying she didn’t feel comfortable putting it out there. That she had been diagnosed as bipolar. So, her question to everybody is as an editor, how do you think you would handle it or even you know give her advice because she wants to share the story.
Alyssa: Yeah, I’ll just jump in and say that while I certainly am guilty of putting diagnostic categories into stories in a way it’s kind of by CC this person is actually by the mental illness because here it’s just it’s disorder but I also do where possible try to avoid putting in the diagnosis where it doesn’t seem to be relevant, right? Where it’s, you know, if the diagnosis itself is relevant, let’s say for a question of whether somebody would be admitted to a hospital or something else for the story then we might need to put it in but there’s certainly times where I just said, you know what, we don’t need to see what this is. Just since I’m on that mental illness and here’s what happened. So, I think that there, yeah, there’s different situations, but I tend to need to work not in diagnostic category because they are so contestable, it’s a subjective frame.
Caroline Okay, so yeah, it’s tough because I think too like it is a shorthand and it is a way to say like you know, this is the person you’re hearing about or whatever in the news and here they are like, you know, the person you’re hearing about or whatever in the news and here they are like, you know, telling you how they feel about something.
Because they’re like, oh, what was it again? What was the latest one? You know, and then it feels a little like, like this is how well it is.
It’s not, you know, really is. And then it feels a little like, like, this is a little like, oh, like, this co-real, and this, this, kind of, a different diagnosis, the—
Cindy: And I also think it’s your story. So, it’s your story to share. So, if that’s something you don’t want to share, don’t. You know, you can just say, you know, a history of mental illness or whatever it is. You don’t have to be specific if that’s not what you want to do. That’s what I think. Any questions? Yes Yeah.
Person from the public Oh, well, first off, thank you. I’m non journalist, and then on the, on young professionals here at NAMI-NYC. My question is around, you know, I think we all recognize the importance of breaking the stigma around suicide, but I guess for me, sometimes think about there’s that line between breaking this day one and making it not a serious topic. For the last thing we want is for kids to, you know, have a time of life, they go, maybe this is my rabbit suicide attack.
They’re all coming about, you know, everyone, everyone deals with that. You know, it becomes these things that we also don’t want to make it not as serious issue and it’s like, oh, everyone, everyone goes through that. Here’s your suicide. Is that something that you ever think about or have any thoughts on that?
Cindy: So almost David was saying that like we want to break the stigma around suicide, but he’s concerned that if we do it so much that like a kid may grow up thinking that’s normalized like everyone kind of well everyone thinks that way. I hadn’t really actually thought about that because I almost feel like we’re so far from that.
Yeah, and now that’s a fair answer too.
Right, but I mean that’s you saying that will make me think about that. I don’t know, I think it’s just about the way we talk about it. Just to be responsible and you know always talk about the seriousness of it. And, you know, also talk about. Suicide when it when a suicide is completed because sometimes the stories we focus on or when someone has survived.
So, and I also, you know, you were talking about putting the tip line at the end of the stories and that sort of that’s another thing that I think is really, really important, always no matter what kind of story you do that it involves suicide or triggering things to put that 988 number at the end of your story and you can never do that too much is my feeling.
Person from the public Yes. I think that’s the question. I, I, and I’m like, and, you know, so do you have to do any, like, a, you know, so do you do any coverage with that?
Cindy So, Gail is talking about using the arts to help with mental illness and and have do we ever cover any of those stories?
Person from the public Okay, other thing. In terms of, and, floods. So, they’re everything to cause and stuff —
Caroline I was going to say, like, I’ve been to Balmouth several times and like one thing that is really free is that you can start like sprinkle in the details of like this person was reading a phone to some other members and that person writes about fashion for the in-house youth fifth newsletter in his life.
It’s nice to just like get in those details of like the thing that’s helping people it’s not necessarily medication.
Cindy Thank you for bringing that up, cause I honestly, I, we do so much on mental health that my station, but I don’t think we’ve done a lot on that. And that’s something that would be really good for my show at 9 am. Monday through Friday. But the other thing that I was going to bring up was when I went to the psychiatric hospital, I had no confidence in art. You know, and music and all that sort of thing for, to help with that. I couldn’t believe it one of the first things they had we do was start coloring and it was like a coloring book like a deer and some trees and I’m doing and I’m bawling my eyes out.
And then I, they do the music thing and I’m bawling my eyes out and I couldn’t believe it because I just didn’t understand the power of art. So, I appreciate you bringing that up and that picture of the deer of the tree is hung up on my daughter’s, in my daughter’s bedroom. She went off to college, but she was just like 12 at the time this happened but looking at that it means a lot so thank you for bringing that up.
Person from the public Thank you. And There are a lot of things that I wish that before knew about diagnosis. Specifically, that impaired diagnosis is older, says months, we’ve not been assistance, there’s no overlap. — Thank you for that, thank us. Doesn’t do a lot of context and change or, stress or
Situation so it must be caused, and they reassess. So, I guess my question is, what have you heard the most that you would not let people, you’re the folks who you interview and close contact with wish that everybody knew about mental illness and that’s one thing that I would share right now.
Me with my, you know, people, that’s what they don’t know. And say, hey, So, any thoughts about that? Like, what do you think?
Cindy So just quick for the question, Susan, right? Susan, this is social worker and wants to know what we wish people knew about mental health that we hear from folks.
Person from the public —The spotlight on the You said you’ve been a report for years, you’ve been covering mental health in the field.
And if you think we’re the devices, as the years went on, if you think about this time, we are really in a mental health crisis.
Andy Okay. I have only been covering this subject two and a half year and not exclusively so I don’t have I mean, I’ve been alive for a lot more than that and I’ve been a reporter in New York for 30 years almost, so I’ve seen a lot of crises kind of come, come and go.
It does feel like things are a crisis now, but it could be just that there is more attention being, in now because those things —
Alyssa I’ve been covering mental health, you know, periodically over the past years since I other organization in The City and I think what we’ve had is a consistent time it’s coincided with this insistent crisis of not having added adequate services and supports and the institutional care.
And I think there’s a lot of reasons for that, and some of it is actually very good other public policies that it interfered. So, for example, you have a right to — doctor in New York City and a lot of mental health care is now it’s not really fair at all. It’s kind of — mental health shelters and where they’re just trying to make sure folks are get through the day, right, and get out, the door—
But you know, look at tremendous, we’ve invested heavily in the shelter system for example, but then defunded it’s not a one-to-one thing, but we just don’t have that level. We don’t have a right to mental health care at that level. We don’t have a right to get that emotional support, and I think that’s, the ongoing presence and as we document it gets worse by the year if you were in fewer beds.
And there’s a, you know, the idea that you can get care in the community is true for some people in some circumstances, but that also is not —
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Caroline — Over again. And it’s just like, you know, basically the distribution of, and this effort to move people like warehousing them in psychiatric hospitals to like the community, it’s been this conversation about like, okay, where are all these supports in the community?
How much do you really need, you know, a place where people go where they actually stay and like just living on their own.
But you know, what do I extend? Do you need to like — they won’t take it. And then it’s like the conversation — it really does feel like people have out these conversations since like the 60s or the 70s, which feels a little frustrating when you’re covering it, frankly.
And then I just, like, follow up and everything. So. Okay. But I guess there’s a lot of ways to —
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For the That’s called intimately.
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Person from the public So I’m an every ambassador and I’m also a patient. And family experience community and races for hospital. And some of the things an issue that you experienced were things that we as family members, patients said we’d make the psychiatric experience better — But the question and they’re very responsible, we have idea — I’d like to know more about the radio shows and the video program that they had in the psychiatric hospital and the people who participate, because it may be a very useful experience for — here in New York City.
Caroline Yeah, I mean it was really cool. It was very much like I’ll go whatever you want. Like if this is not like a journalistic endeavor, but they like, you know, talk about the headlines that day or someone coming through their home, and it also was very much like whether you’re like your sort of, relationship— . You know, like, you can, this sort of express yourself however you want so, it’s like a really interesting program and then I actually, when I went back to school in Ohio, I like my friend and I’m here — That’s like, I think it was like sort of a — We just like started the radio show with them there that we heard on our —
I know it’s like kind of a mess because we didn’t know what we were doing — people get together and like talk about what they want to do or what they want to show to be called and you know, but it was very much like people just get together and like talk about what they want to do and what they want to show to be called and you was at the clubhouse like also really like to DJ, and he like came on and DJ after the show. And, and like, you know, helped sort of like present it.
And I do feel like there is just like it’s nice to have that kind of freedom. Like I’ve heard, I think I’ve heard, people talking about doing various projects like that. —
Person from the public —I’ve worked with some of you up there before. But this question, IT is not necessarily a secret. No, that’s nice. It’s a place for, for the reason I love —
Cindy: That’s such a good question, she was saying that newsrooms can be a toxic place, and what can the people within the newsroom do to protect the employees, right? Was interesting because what happened was I had toxic people before and that’s when everything went you know downhill.
Then when they left came in oh my gosh the most amazing people you’ve ever met it’s like they replaced them with the opposite and these folks are really into mental health. So, I think it’s it is convincing the top and what they do they will bring in psychologists for us several times.
You know during 9/11 just last 9/11 night during some of the really tough stories that have been done and that says a lot you know I think when bosses let the employees know that they care really makes a difference but then as employees too I think it’s our responsibility if you have a boss who’s going to listen, let them know what we need.
You know, cause sometimes I’ll have a meeting with the top boss, they’ll say, what do you all need? I’m like, you know what? There’s this great psychologist, Dr. D and if you have him talk with all of us, that would really be helpful and then they did it.
So, I think it’s an open, you know, conversation and unfortunately, like you said, sometimes it’s not going to work, but you might as well throw it out there. And one good thing is do it so it makes them look good. That’s one secret I learned in this executive leadership program. Make your boss look good. And then, you know, like get them on a panel or something and get them some air time for the good work they’re doing but yeah if you got to get it from the top and also just as a person to support each other I think we can tell when our fellow reporters or producers or writers or whatever are struggling and they’re quieter and I mean just even is are you okay?
You know and like you were saying when you when you’re really concerned about someone if they’re going to you know If they may be thinking about suicide, be very specific and say “Are you thinking of suicide? Are you thinking of killing yourself? Because we don’t want to dance around this, okay?” So sorry to end on that, but I want to thank you all for being here and thank you guys. I really appreciate it.