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What if we could save lives by changing the way we talk about mental illness and suicide?

Youth United for Responsible Media Representation

location_on United States
We’re a team of passionate young people from the San Francisco Bay Area. We launched Youth United for Responsible Media Representation because we’ve experienced suicide loss firsthand and we know that the media can play a big role in reducing stigma and spreading hope. Through education and advocacy, we aim to start more honest, responsible and productive conversations about mental health.
Chloe Sorensen, Founder
Suicide is something that we can and should talk about–but it should be talked about in a way that helps, rather than harms.

Chloe Sorensen, Founder

Overview

HundrED shortlisted this innovation

HundrED has shortlisted this innovation to one of its innovation collections. The information on this page has been checked by HundrED.
Key figures

Innovation Overview

ALL
Target Group
576
Children/Users
1
Country
2018
Established
Not-for-profit
Organisation
481
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Updated on February 1st, 2021
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Our Mission


Suicide is the second leading cause of death for adolescents in the US. Young people are also particularly vulnerable to the effects of suicide contagion, which is when social influences cause suicide to spread within a population. This contagion sometimes leads to suicide "clusters," like the one we experienced in our home community of Palo Alto, California. 

Research shows that media portrayals of mental illness and suicide have a significant impact on suicide contagion: when suicide is depicted in ways that is sensational, graphic, or excessive, suicide rates increase. This led suicide prevention experts to develop a set of safe standards for media professionals, which can be found at www.reportingonsuicide.org. When the media adheres to these guidelines and emphasizes hope, recovery, and resilience rather than tragedy and pain, suicide rates decrease. 

Unfortunately, many current media portrayals of mental illness and suicide are damaging to people with mental health conditions, such as the hit TV series 13 Reasons Why. Youth United for Responsible Media Representation strives to start conversations between young people and the media in order to educate people about the impacts of media representation and encourage more responsible portrayals of mental health and suicide. In the past year, we launched a series of youth-led educational workshops and presented at multiple conferences in the United States. We also run a blog, where you can read stories from young people with lived experience with mental health conditions, and stay up to date on our latest work. Our initiative is entirely youth-led, although we are fortunate to receive support from the Stanford Center for Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing.

You can follow our progress on instagram at @responsiblemediaforyouth or by checking our website regularly at www.responsiblemediaforyouth.org

Media

See this innovation in action

Our Research: Identifying ways to promote responsible media representation
We are currently in the midst of working on our first-ever original research study, with funding from Stanford University. This qualitative research project aims to explore how media professionals engage with the issues of mental illness in order to identify ways to support, promote, and encourage collaboration between mental health professionals and the media. For the past few months, our founder, Chloe Sorensen, has been conducting interviews with media professionals from across the country and collecting their perspectives on this issue. Stay tuned for updates! 
Youth Perspectives on Mental Health in the Media
Watch our short film featuring young people from around the Bay Area sharing their thoughts on mental health portrayals in the media, and how they've been impacted firsthand. 
Expanding our Impact
Over the course of the next year, we are excited to be expanding our work to college campuses across the country. Our youth ambassadors are taking off for the 2019-20 school year, and will be representing Youth United for Responsible Media Representation on the following campuses: University of California, San Diego (San Diego, CA)Brandeis University (Waltham, MA)University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC) Washington University in Saint Louis (St. Louis, MO) University of Utah (Salt Lake City, UT) Stanford University (Palo Alto, CA)
Youth-Led Educational Workshops
Over the past year, our team developed a workshop designed to help media professionals, students, and advocates learn about the importance of responsibly representing mental health in the media. After piloting the workshop with local journalism education programs, we brought our work to multiple conferences and programs, including:Adolescent Mental Wellness Conference (Apr 2018, San Francisco, CA)BrainMind Summit (Sep 2018, Stanford University) Mindful Media Conference (Oct 2018, Palo Alto, CA)Journalism Education Association National Convention (Apr 2019, Anaheim, CA)Youth-Tech-Health Live (May 2019, San Francisco, CA)Asian American Mental Health Conference (May 2019, San Francisco, CA) Clinical Neuroscience Research Experience (August 2019, Stanford University)
"This Too Shall Pass": A Suicide Survivor's Story — Youth United for Responsible Media Representation
“Suicide is something that should be talked about. If we want to get rid of the stigma behind suicide and mental illness we first have to create a dialogue. However, that dialogue has to be held respectfully, maturely, and most of all, responsibly. ” –Kurtis Riener, 21https://www.responsiblemediaforyouth.org/blog/this-too-shall-pass
Feature: This College Student Is a Leader in the Fight Against Teen Suicide
http://nationswell.com/teens-and-suicide-prevention/Check out this profile of our founder, Chloe to learn more about why she launched Youth United for Responsible Media Representation!
Our Blog: Sharing Stories That Matter
On our blog (www.responsiblemediaforyouth.org/blog), we share stories that make a difference: mental health stories that focus on recovery, hope, and resilience, including guest posts from young people with lived experience. 
Podcast Episode: Youth United founder Chloe Sorensen on Project Oyster
Youth United for Responsible Media Representation founder Chloe Sorensen was featured on the podcast Project Oyster, which strives to start healthier conversations about mental health. [click here to listen]

Milestones

Achievements & Awards

December 2018
Website Launch (responsiblemediaforyouth.org)
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