PSYCHIATRISTS are not doing a great job of explaining what they do and the news media are doing an even worse job reporting whatever explanations are offered to the public.
That was one of the easier conclusions reached by psychiatrists and journalists who participated in the American Psychiatric Association's (APA) first Consensus Conference on Psychiatry and the Media, held in Washington, DC, in March.
The conference, which was cosponsored by the Program in Medical Journalism at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the National Association of Medical Communications, was attended by journalists from CNN, Consumer Reports, NBC's Dateline, PBS ' The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer, the Washington Post, and other major news media. Together with APA representatives and other psychiatrists, they sought to identify the major shortcomings in the communication of mental health issues, determine who is at fault for those shortcomings, and decide what can be done to correct them.
Skolnick AA. Psychiatrists, Journalists Hold Their First Meeting of Minds. JAMA. 1998;279(17):1337-1338. doi:10.1001/jama.279.17.1337-JMN0506-3-1