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Why psychiatry should engage with the media

  • Claire Bithell

Summary

Psychiatry receives less media coverage than general medicine, and the coverage it does receive is four times as likely to be negatively framed. In addition, coverage of mental health problems is often negative in tone and mental health research tends to be underrepresented in the media. As the media is likely to be a key source of information for the general public about mental health and psychiatry, this is worrying. There are opportunities, however, to change this landscape; the UK national news media are keen to cover more stories about mental health problems and to feature more psychiatrists' comments in their coverage. By engaging with the media, psychiatrists have the chance to create better-informed media narrative.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

Dr Claire Bithell, Science Media Centre, 21 Albemarle Street, London W1S 4BS, UK. Email: cbithell@ri.ac.uk

Footnotes

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Declaration of Interest

C.B is Head of Mental Health at the Science Media Centre.

Footnotes

References

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Bithell, C (2010) Mental Health Research in the Media: Recommendations for a New Function at the Science Media Centre. SMC.
Callard, F, Thornicroft, G, Rose, D et al (2008) Shift Media Survey. Mind Over Matter 2: Report to Shift. Care Services Improvement Partnership (http:/Ac.csip.org.uk/viewresource.php?action=viewdocument&doc=101964&grp=584).
Huang, B, Priebe, S (2003) Media coverage of mental health care in the UK, USA and Australia. Psychiatric Bulletin 27: 331–3.
Ipsos MORI (2002) Public Expects The Impossible From Science. Ipsos MORI (http://www.ipsos-mori.com/researchpublications/researcharchive/poll.aspx?oitemid=1071).
Lawrie, SM (2000) Newspaper coverage of psychiatric and physical illness. Psychiatric Bulletin 24: 104–6.
Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health, Mental Health Media, Rethink (2005) Shift Media Survey 1. Mind Over Matter: Improving Media Reporting of Mental Health. Care Services Improvement Partnership (http://kc.csip.org.uk/viewresource.php?action=viewdocument&pid=0&doc=98881&grp=584).
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BJPsych Advances
  • ISSN: 1355-5146
  • EISSN: 1472-1481
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-advances
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Why psychiatry should engage with the media

  • Claire Bithell
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eLetters

Soaps-the way forward

Gabrielle Milner, Consultant
01 April 2011

Millions of people are influenced by coverage of issues that appear in soaps. There is evidence that story lines in soaps can also influence behaviour. As a medium soap story lines may prove an influential way of addressing stigma and attitudes in the general population.

Conflict of interest: None Declared

Write a reply

Can we achieve that....

Dr AKJ Shishodia, Locum ST4
04 March 2011

They say it is never too late to start a revolution! Psychiatry has always been a poor sister in comparison to general medicine and things appeared to remain the same way in the early 1900's. We have always had negative coverage in the media, and things have not changed much, in spite of the digital revolution.

I have failed to understand the apathy within psychiatry itself; instead of taking the media head-on about the negative coverage we have failed to stop them. Every day thare is news about mentally disordered clients flashed out in the media, but rather than removing the negative cognition about them, what is left is the blame game on the speciality itself...

It needs to start at the grass root level..I think the stimga is here to stay unless we start working on the attitude at our own workplace and deal with the apathy that seems to have entangled the field.

Sensational is what the media is more interested in rather than actually working with the specialty itself in order to remove the misconception.

It a long road ahead.....
... More

Conflict of interest: None Declared

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