Fighting Stigma: Guidance on Mental Illness Added to Journalism Stylebook

Image courtesy of photomyheart at
Image courtesy of photomyheart at

For some time now, NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) in the USA has worked to have the news media abandon inaccurate, careless, or stigmatizing language or practices in reporting on mental illness.

The NAMI website is now reporting that the Associated Press has included rules on mental illness in the new edition of the AP Stylebook, a well respected guidebook commonly used by journalists.

According to NAMI, the new guidelines include the following:

  • Mental illness is a general condition. Specific disorders are types of mental illness and should be used whenever possible
  • Do not use derogatory terms, such as insane, crazy/crazed, nuts or deranged, unless they are part of a quotation that is essential to the story.
  • Wherever possible, rely on people with mental illness to talk about their own diagnoses.
  • Avoid using mental health terms to describe non-health issues. Don’t say that an awards show, for example, was schizophrenic.
  • Do not assume that mental illness is a factor in a violent crime, and verify statements to that effect. A past history of mental illness is not necessarily a reliable indicator. Studies have shown that the vast majority of people with mental illness are not violent, and experts say most people who are violent do not suffer from mental illness

You can read the entire story via the link below:

NAMI | Entry on Mental Illness Added to AP Stylebook.

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