"She writes with clarity and empathy," Roy Gibson said Monday in awarding the Lucy Beth Rampton Award for Special Service in Journalism to Deseret News feature writer Elaine Jarvik.
The Utah Mental Health Media Awards are presented annually to reporters who have been especially sensitive to the stigma of mental illness. Jarvik won the top honor for a feature on U-CAN-DU, a patients' consumer advocacy group.Gibson praised Jarvik for being multidimensional in her reporting of mental health issues.
Her article quoted a patient saying, "We get `niced' to death, until we become nothing." Another mentally ill man was quoted saying, "We have a right not to be stigmatized."
By telling the public what life is really like for the mentally ill and their families, reporters are gradually helping to remove the stigma and myths of mental illness, according to those who work for mental health organizations.
The Utah Mental Health Association, the Utah Alliance of the Mentally Ill, and U-CAN-DU are among those who sponsor the awards.
At the award luncheon, held Monday at the Fort Douglas Officer's Club, Holly Whiting of the Utah Mental Health Association said myths about mental illness persist. She cited a survey of 500 Utahns that showed 95 percent believe severe mental illness is due to alcohol and drug abuse and 45 percent believe people chose to be mentally ill. "The survey findings tell us much education still needs to be done," she said.
Other media award winners are: John Hollenhorst and Ray Wagstaff, KSL-TV; Hawk Mendenhall, KUSU-FM radio; Dan Pambianco, Cache Citizen; Marjorie Cortez, Ogden Standard Examiner; and Carol Sisco, Salt Lake Tribune.
When asked why she regularly focuses on people who are struggling with mental illness, Jarvik said, "I think of all the people I write about they are the bravest."