Tuesday, March 12, 2013

"AP Stylebook" Adds Entry on Mental Illness for Journalists

The Associated Press (AP) has added a new entry about mental illness to the widely read “AP Stylebook,” clarifying how journalists should refer to mental illness and people with a mental illness in articles and stories, and admonishing reporters and editors to avoid stigmatizing terms and phrases.

The entry, which has been added immediately to the online "AP Stylebook" and will appear in the new print edition and "Stylebook Mobile" in the spring, includes—among others—the following instructions: “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,” and “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.” The "AP Stylebook" is widely used by writers, journalists, and editors for a broad array of publication types, and the new entry reflects a remarkable sensitivity to the way public perception of mental illness can be shaped by modern journalism. A full text of the new AP entry about reporting on mental illness is online here.

For more about how media shape perceptions of mental illness, see Psychiatric News here and here.



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