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Newspaper coverage of mental illness in England 2008-2011

  • Amalia Thornicroft (a1), Robert Goulden (a1), Guy Shefer (a1), Danielle Rhydderch (a1), Diana Rose (a1), Paul Williams (a1), Graham Thornicroft (a1) and Claire Henderson (a1)...
Abstract
Background

Better newspaper coverage of mental health-related issues is a target for the Time to Change (TTC) anti-stigma programme in England, whose population impact may be influenced by how far concurrent media coverage perpetuates stigma and discrimination.

Aims

To compare English newspaper coverage of mental health-related topics each year of the TTC social marketing campaign (2009-2011) with baseline coverage in 2008.

Method

Content analysis was performed on articles in 27 local and national newspapers on two randomly chosen days each month.

Results

There was a significant increase in the proportion of anti-stigmatising articles between 2008 and 2011. There was no concomitant proportional decrease in stigmatising articles, and the contribution of mixed or neutral elements decreased.

Conclusions

These findings provide promising results on improvements in press reporting of mental illness during the TTC programme in 2009-2011, and a basis for guidance to newspaper journalists and editors on reporting mental illness.

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Copyright
Royal College of Psychiatrists, This paper accords with the NIH Public Access policy and is governed by the licence available athttp://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/pdf/NIH%20licence%20agreement.pdf
Corresponding author
Dr Claire Henderson, Health Service and Population Research Department, Institute of Psychiatry, De Crespigny Park, London SE5 8AF, UK. Email: Claire.1.henderson@kcl.ac.uk
Footnotes
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Declaration of interest

G.T. has received grants for stigma-related research in the past 5 years from Lundbeck UK and from the National institute for Health Research, and has acted as a consultant to the UK Office of the Chief Scientist.

Footnotes
References
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1 Thornicroft, G. Shunned: Discrimination Against People With Mental Illness. Oxford University Press, 2006.
2 Angermeyer, MC, Dietrich, S, Pott, D, Matschinger, H. Media consumption and desire for social distance towards people with schizophrenia. Eur Psychiatry 2005; 20: 246–50.
3 Henderson, C, Thornicroft, G. Stigma and discrimination in mental illness: Time to Change. Lancet 2009; 373: 1928–30.
4 Dunion, L, Gordon, L. Tackling the attitude problem. The achievements to date of Scotland's ‘see me’ anti-stigma campaign. Ment Health Today 2005; 22–5.
5 Knifton, L, Quinn, N. Media, mental health and discrimination: a frame of reference for understanding reporting trends. Int J Ment Health Promotion 2008; 10: 2331.
6 Clement, S, Foster, N. Newspaper reporting on schizophrenia: a content analysis of five national newspapers at two time points. Schizophr Res 2008; 98: 178–83.
7 Mental Health Commission. Discriminating Times? A Re-survey of New Zealand Print Media Reporting on Mental Health. MHC, 2005.
8 Crisp, AH, Cowan, L, Hart, D. The College's anti-stigma campaign 1998–2003: a shortened version of the concluding report. Psychiatr Bull 2004; 28: 133–6.
9 Mehta, N, Kassam, A, Leese, M, Butler, G, Thornicroft, G. Public attitudes towards people with mental illness in England and Scotland, 1994–2003. Br J Psychiatry 2009; 194: 278–84.
10 Anderson, M. ‘One flew over the psychiatric unit’: mental illness and the media. J Psychiatr Ment Health Nurs 2003; 10: 297306.
11 Evans-Lacko, S, Henderson, C, Thornicroft, G. Public knowledge, attitudes and behaviour regarding people with mental illness in England 2009–2012. Br J Psychiatry 2013; 202 (suppl 55): s51–7.
12 Boffey, D. Disabled people face abuse and threats of violence after fraud crackdown. Observer 15 May 2011.
13 Scope. Deteriorating Attitudes towards Disabled People. Scope, 2011.
14 Wahl, O. Mass media images of mental illness: a review of the literature. J Community Psychol 1992; 20: 343–52.
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The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: 0007-1250
  • EISSN: 1472-1465
  • URL: /core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry
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Newspaper coverage of mental illness in England 2008-2011

  • Amalia Thornicroft (a1), Robert Goulden (a1), Guy Shefer (a1), Danielle Rhydderch (a1), Diana Rose (a1), Paul Williams (a1), Graham Thornicroft (a1) and Claire Henderson (a1)...
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