Wednesday, March 05, 2014

URGENT PLEASE RESPOND TO WJHL NEWS SEGMENT!

Please view this segment of a local news broadcast and please respond to the station.  I have posted my letter to the station general manger below.



Ed Cooper, Director
Project Dream Again
P.O. Box 2345
Elizabethton, TN 37644-2345
828-584-3011(cell)

Dan Cates, General Manager
WJHL-TV
338 E. Main Street
Johnson City, TN 37601

March 4, 2014

Dear Mr. Cates:

This communication is in regards to a segment of the 6 pm newscast on 3/3/2014 called “mental health facilities give patients piece of mind” by Anna Zook. As a person with lived experienced (meaning I have been given a psychiatric diagnosis), I could not have been more disappointed and outraged with this segment.  Your anchor introduced the segment by reminding the listeners of the tragedy that took place in the family of Virginia State Senator Deeds and then the piece went on to introduce us to a family member who wished she did not have to live with one of us and a person who seemed to enjoy going to the mental hospital.  None of these are in anyway typical of the majority of family members or of those who have a psychiatric diagnosis.  You all could not have done a poorer job of portraying us and our families.

“Marlene Bailey, the Director of Behavioral Programs at Woodridge says providing a safe haven is their top priority. “Safety is one of our biggest goals. Safety for the patient, safety for the community, and safety for the family".

The above quote is simply demeaning. Ms. Bailey may think that is their top priority, but in fact recovery should be the top priority at Woodridge.  You can find what I wrote about recovery before I saw this segment at http://projectdreamagain.blogspot.com/
You can read a longer piece on the subject here.
It defines what it calls abuses of recovery and then offers some suggestions.
My point here is that maybe if your news team had done any research at all this one sided shameful picture of persons with mental illness labels and their families would not have been presented as people the community and family needed to be protected from.

Quote from this webpage
People with psychiatric disabilities are far more likely to be victims than perpetrators of violent crime (Appleby, et al., 2001). Researchers at North Carolina State University and Duke University found that people with severe mental illnesses—schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or psychosis—are 2 ½ times more likely to be attacked, raped or mugged than the general population (Hiday, et al., 1999).
People with mental illnesses can and do recover. People with mental illnesses can recover or manage their conditions and go on to lead happy, healthy, productive lives. They contribute to society and make the world a better place. People can often benefit from medication, rehabilitation, talk therapy, self help or a combination of these. One of the most important factors in recovery is the understanding and acceptance of family and friends.
“Most people who suffer from a mental disorder are not violent — there is no need to fear them. Embrace them for who they are — normal human beings experiencing a difficult time, who need your open mind, caring attitude, and helpful support (Grohol, 1998).”

For more information on how to address discrimination and social exclusion, contact the SAMHSA Resource Center to Promote Acceptance, Dignity, and Social Inclusion Associated with Mental Health (ADS Center), a program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services at http://promoteacceptance.samhsa.gov, e-mail promoteacceptance@samhsa.hhs.gov, or call 800-540-0320

The point here is we should fear you more than you should fear us.  May is National Mental Health Month. I am asking you to consider doing an extended segment in which people like myself can present the other side.

I have been an advocate since 1988 and a recipient of mental health services since 1964.  I am a 100% service connected disabled veteran of which there are many in your viewing area that I am sure did not appreciate the segment.

A number of different viewpoints would at least give your viewers a chance to decide for themselves.  I hope someone at your station takes the time to look at the information I have provided and at least think about doing another segment with more length and more than one viewpoint.


Sincerely,


Ed Cooper

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