Carolyn C. Mattingly Award for Mental Health Reporting

About the Award

The Luv u Project introduced the Carolyn C. Mattingly Award for Mental Health Reporting in 2015, in partnership with the National Press Foundation, to honor excellence in mental health reporting. The Award carries a $10,000 prize and is open to any U.S.-based journalist at a U.S.-based news organization, including print, broadcast and online, that was published/initially broadcast in the application calendar year.

The Award recognizes exemplary journalism that illuminates and advances the understanding of mental health issues and treatments for the illness.

This Year's Winner

2022 Winner – Christina Caron, The New York Times

Christina Caron, a reporter for the Well section at The New York Times, has won this year’s National Press Foundation’s Carolyn C. Mattingly award for her coverage of how COVID affected U.S. mental health in 2021, particularly among Black teenagers.

The judges cited Caron’s stories about the rising suicide rate among Black youth as “crucial information for a historically excluded group” that was much affected by the pandemic, yet where stigma often deters those who need help.

To learn more about the winning piece, visit winning announcement.

Past Winners

2021 Winner – Dan Boyce, Colorado Public Radio

Dan Boyce of Colorado Public Radio won the 2021 Carolyn C. Mattingly Award for Mental Health Reporting (for work created in 2020) with a powerful Documentary on His Own Mental Breakdown and Recovery.

The Long Lonely Lake,” an autobiographical portrait of severe depression and recovery, aired as a special episode of CPR’s “Back from Broken” series about mental illness and addiction.

The story was the product of three years’ work and 11 drafts, as Boyce pieced together his descent into depression, his failed treatment with drugs and then his successful treatment with electroconvulsive therapy. Boyce used interviews with family and friends to fill in gaps he could no longer remember.

NPF’s judges called it “searingly honest,” “a feat of storytelling” and “an amazing achievement.”

Boyce is the first radio reporter to win the award. In their decision, NPF judges cited the craft of his compelling 43-minute narrative, the courage required for a journalist to reveal his struggle despite the stigma associated with mental illness, and the educational value of the work in demystifying a serious disease that strikes one in 20 Americans each year.

2020 Winner – Susan Greene, The Colorado Independent and Niki Turner, Rio Blanco Herald Times

Susan Greene of The Colorado Independent and Niki Turner of the Rio Blanco Herald Times won the 2020 National Press Foundation’s Carolyn C. Mattingly Award for Mental Health Reporting (for work created in 2019) for a story on how the killing of a mentally ill man by a police officer changed a community.

Through the Cracks: A stranger, a police shooting, and a small town’s silence,” was written by Turner, editor of the Rio Blanco Herald Times and Greene, editor of The Colorado Independent, a nonprofit in Denver.

“The breath and depth of the reporting was spectacular,” the judges said. “Through the lens of one tragic police-shooting, this collaborative journalism project was able to peel back the layers to show how warning signs are ignored, how rural towns are unequipped to handle mental illness and how families struggle with too few choices.”

Judges praised the ambition of Turner, a weekly newspaper reporter who was rebuffed in her initial attempts to get the story behind the shooting of a man who was known to be mentally ill by the officer who killed him, but went to partner with Greene.

Together, they were able to fight for records, pour over hundreds of documents and hours of video and audio recordings, and interview more than 50 people to tell the story of both the shooting and its aftermath. Turner and Greene concluded that the killing of Daniel Pierce “may have been legally justified, but it was not unavoidable. It underscored the extent to which many in law enforcement are ill-equipped to handle mental health crises and the degree to which the kind of intervention Pierce needed is lacking in rural Colorado.”

2019 Winner – Jonathan Bullington, Richard Webster, Brett Duke, Emma Scott and Haley Correll, NOLA.com and The Times-Picayune

NOLA.com and The Times-Picayune won the 2019 Carolyn C. Mattingly Award for Mental Health Reporting (for work created in 2018) for a project exploring the long-term impact of violence on children in a poor neighborhood in New Orleans.

“NOLA.com and The Times-Picayune journalists spent a year following a youth football team in a deeply troubled section of New Orleans to report on the devastating impact of exposure to unrelenting violence in their schools, their neighborhoods and their homes. The resulting project, ‘The Children of Central City,’ covers scientific angles and the children’s personal stories, woven together with heart-wrenching narrative elements and visuals.” said the National Press Foundation (NPF) panel of judges.

The winning team of journalists include Jonathan Bullington, Richard Webster, Brett Duke, Emma Scott and Haley Correll.

2018 Winner – John Schmid, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

John Schmid of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel was the 2018 winner of the Carolyn C. Mattingly Award for Mental Health Reporting (for work created in 2017).

Schmid combined data and storytelling to trace the aftershocks of Milwaukee’s collapsed manufacturing economy and the impact on generations of children.

NPF judges said: “The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel put mental illness into rare perspective with a compelling explanatory project that illustrated the social and political costs of childhood trauma. Told through the lens of a young girl who is a survivor, “A Time to Heal”  walked readers through the crushing litany of adverse childhood experiences that can harm and define children into adulthood.”

After the series was published, Oprah Winfrey highlighted Schmid’s work in a “60 Minutes” piece.

2017 Winner – Rosalind Adams, Buzzfeed News

The 2017 winner of the Carolyn C. Mattingly Award for Mental Health Reporting (for work created in 2016) is Rosalind Adams of Buzzfeed News. The winning piece, “Intake“, is an investigative report of private psychiatric hospitals.

The judges said: “Adams’ dogged reporting showed that a major for-profit company, which runs 200 psychiatric hospitals, was keeping patients locked up for their insurance money. Her investigation is compelling, chilling and even scary. It is accountability journalism at its best, and government officials are now demanding answers from the company.”

First Winner – Leonora LaPeter Anton and Anthony Cormier, Tampa Bay Times and Michael Braga, Sarasota Hearld-Tribune

The winner of the first Carolyn C. Mattingly award was a unique and powerful collaborative body of work by Leonora LaPeter Anton and Anthony Cormier of the Tampa Bay Times and Michael Braga of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune that exposes harrowing conditions at Florida’s institutions for the mentally ill after $100 million in budget cuts. The five-part project, titled “Insane. Invisible. In danger.” reveals the dangers to mentally ill patients and workers in the institutions, where treatment takes a back seat to controlling rampant violence.

The National Press Foundation judges unanimously selected this piece, commenting that the “investigation represents the best in journalism. It was revealing, thorough, comprehensive and deep. Every element was compelling, from surveillance videos, graphics, data, strong multimedia and top-drawing writing. The project was extraordinarily strong from start to finish.” The judges also noted the unusual collaboration between competing news outlets in Florida.

Apply for the Award

Applications are not yet being accepted for the 2023 Carolyn C. Mattingly Award for Mental Health Reporting (for work created in 2022).

Stay tuned for the application information coming later in 2022.  Deadline will be in spring 2023.

 

Partnership with National Press Foundation

The Luv u Project is grateful to its partner, the National Press Foundation, for their tireless pursuit of making journalists better and recognizing exemplary work that not only elevates key issues but makes material impact.

The National Press Foundation is an independent nonprofit run by and for journalists. NPF’s sole mission is to educate journalists about today’s critical issues so they can better educate citizens. To learn more about the National Press Foundation, please visit their website nationalpress.org.