Story ideas revealed in intersection of mental illness, criminal justice system

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

One of the sessions featured at Health Journalism 2017 in Orlando explored the intersection of the criminal justice system and mental illness in the United States from various angles. This Storify includes tweets from multiple attendees at the session – along with quite a number of leads for story ideas.

A fair amount of the session was unfortunately unsurprising in revealing how the justice system has become one of the nation’s biggest mental health care providers (if not the largest), but hearing about the sheer scale of the problem was nonetheless enlightening and disturbing. This topic area is rich with potential story ideas that are woefully undercovered and underappreciated.

Even with all the attention in recent years on police-related violence, it seems the “big picture” stories are being missed. Journalists willing to dig into studies on social determinants, epidemiology of mental illness, prison population health, re-entry experiences and outcomes, and similar research could use these findings to report on both local and national stories that may have the potential to effect gradual change. Keep all this in mind as you read the tweets.

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