Letters to the West Virginia University Regarding Depression Article Feedback

The following is a copy of the two letters I have sent to the West Virginia University (see why I’m fighting their stigma here). I have yet to receive a reply. You are welcome to copy and paste any parts that you like and send them yourself. The most voices the better.

Send Your Email to the Newspaper and Other University Staff

I sent this letter to everyone at the paper as well as psychology and journalism heads at the school:

To: ‘DAnewsroom@mail.wvu.edu’; ‘DAPerspectives@mail.wvu.edu’; ‘Alan.Waters@mail.wvu.edu’; ‘Tracy.Morris@mail.wvu.edu’; ‘Kevin.Larkin@mail.wvu.edu’; ‘William.Fremouw@mail.wvu.edu’; ‘Maryanne.Reed@mail.wvu.edu’; ‘Diana.Martinelli@mail.wvu.edu’; ‘CHERUKURI@huffingtonpost.com’; ‘Danielle.Faipler@mail.wvu.edu’

CC: ‘velasconyc@yahoo.com’; ‘DASports@mail.wvu.edu’; ‘DAA&E@mail.wvu.edu’; ‘Erin.Fitzwilliams@mail.wvu.edu’; ‘John.Terry@mail.wvu.edu’; ‘Alex.Koscevic@mail.wvu.edu’; ‘Mackenzie.Mays@mail.wvu.edu’; ‘Lydia.Nuzum@mail.wvu.edu’; ‘James.Carvelli@mail.wvu.edu’; ‘Ben.Gaughan@mail.wvu.edu’; ‘Berry@mail.wvu.edu’; ‘Jeremiah.Yates@mail.wvu.edu’; ‘Jakob.Potts@mail.wvu.edu’; ‘Charles.Young@mail.wvu.edu’; ‘DACalendar@mail.wvu.edu’; ‘Matthew.Sunday@mail.wvu.edu’; ‘DA-Editor@mail.wvu.edu’; ‘BoFisher@mail.wvu.edu’; ‘Kyle.Hess@mail.wvu.edu’; ‘Alan.Waters@mail.wvu.edu’; ‘Pam.Dodson@mail.wvu.edu’; ‘chris.mcelroy@mail.wvu.edu’; ‘Jami.Christopher@mail.wvu.edu’; ‘roy.batesr@mail.wvu.edu’; ‘danewsroom@mail.wvu.edu’

To the Editors and Management of the Daily Athenaeum as well as the psychology and journalism professionals at West Virginia University,

After a lack of response regarding my prior feedback on the Depression can be treated through lifestyle changes article, I’m forced to again express my extreme disappointment in the handling of this situation.

I would like to encourage the editorial team to take this as an opportunity not only to acknowledge the questionable reporting, but also to help remove stigma from the mental health community. I strongly ask for:

  1. A retraction and correction of the published piece posted online, on Facebook and Twitte
  2. A series of education-focused articles on the mental health services available for WVU students and mental illness stigma
  3. A guest column on mental illness to be published (I would be happy to contribute this)

I am asking for professional journalism behavior as are the hundreds of other people who have read my articles on this subject. I look forward to your reply.

Natasha Tracy

Mental Health Advocate and Writer

http://natashatracy.com

My Original Email to The Daily Athenaeum (no reponse)

To the Editors and Management of the Daily Athenaeum,

I am writing this letter to inform you as to my disappointment in a recent Opinion column and your actions around said column.

The column in question is: Depression can be treated through lifestyle changes by Danielle Faipler.

This column shows a variety of inaccuracies and in spreading these inaccuracies, increases the stigma of the mentally ill.

As an example,

Antidepressants are good for short-term treatment, but they do not facilitate with the long-term changes needed to treat the illness, and they add to the growing prescription drug abuse problem in the U.S.

In no way are these statements accurate and moreover, the reporter cites no references to backup these faulty statements. From what I can tell, they are simply made up and completely contrary to journalistic ethics not to mention the practices of an institution of learning.

Antidepressants do benefit people short-term as well as long-term as I’ve discussed with regard to a scientific study here. Additionally, there is no evidence that antidepressants are abused nor are they shown to be addictive as I’ve discussed here. And unlike your reporter, I refer to actual studies and references in regards to my comments.

Which brings me to your paper’s actions around this criticism.

A number of people left comments on this article expressing concern over its inaccuracies and its further stigmatization of people with a mental illness. And instead of addressing these concerns, you removed all comments and disallowed further discussion.

This isn’t acceptable.

Just because you don’t like criticism, that doesn’t give you the right to ignore it or sweep it under the run. If your paper is to be considered a journalistic outlet of any sort then you must support free speech and you have done anything but. We, the mental illness community, will not sit idly by and allow you to silence our very real and reasonable concerns.

I encouraged you to write a retraction or a clarification in an article I wrote on October 31st. I now again ask that you correct these factual errors in the hopes that the mentally ill reading this column do not feel further stigmatized by a very serious, life-threatening illness. If your paper stops one person from reaching out and getting real medical help – it is far too many. I suggest you think of the one-in-eight people with bipolar disorder who commit suicide the next time you consider publishing material that trivializes a serious medical condition.

Natasha Tracy

Mental Health Activist and Writer

http://natashatracy.com

Update

The Daily Athenaeum has bowed to pressure and reinstated comments on their article. I will continue to push to have them address our concerns.

Thanks to everyone for your help with this. Keep it up!

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