Linking Attitudes towards Mental Illness & the Media

Research Paper Title

Turkish newspaper articles mentioning people with mental illness: A retrospective study.

Background

Because a great majority of the public knows about mental disorders primarily through printed or visual media, the attitudes exhibited in mass media might be predictive in stigmatizing individuals with mental disorders.

The aim of this study was to retrospectively assess the articles in Turkish newspapers that mention individuals with mental disorders.

Methods

This study was designed to retrospectively investigate and analyze newspaper content in Turkey; the newspapers’ circulation information was collected by examining the websites of the four newspapers with above 1% of the total circulation.

The News Evaluation Form was used to evaluate a sampling of articles that met the inclusion criteria of having appeared in the lifestyle and agenda pages of newspapers, and of using neutral or negative labelling keywords about psychiatric patients.

Results

Almost all the articles reviewed were negative toward individuals with mental disorders.

Three quarters of the reports were forensic, among which two thirds of the individuals with mental disorders were criminalised, and one third were victims of crime.

In approximately half of the news reports, most images were related to the news and were not protected.

Although not all the articles contain stigmatising elements directed toward people with mental disorders, two thirds of the subjects’ images in the news were found to have stigmatising elements.

Conclusions

Media has an impact on attitudes toward people with mental disorders mostly negatively along with individual experiences and peer interactions.

Reference

Aci, O.S., Ciydem, E., Bilgin, H., Ozaslan, Z. & Tek, S. (2020) Turkish newspaper articles mentioning people with mental illness: A retrospective study. The International Journal of Social Psychiatry. doi: 10.1177/0020764019894609. [Epub ahead of print].

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