Public Media: What about Mental Health Nurses?

Research Paper Title

Swedish Mental Health Nurses’ Experiences of Portrayals of Mental Illness in Public Media.

Background

News reporting about mental illness lack perspectives of the mentally ill themselves and it is almost exclusively psychiatrists who are accessed when healthcare staff is consulted.

The perspective of mental health nurses might contribute to the public understanding of mental illness.

The purpose of this study was to describe mental health nurses’ experiences of how mental illness is portrayed in media.

Methods

Eight semi-structured interviews were conducted with qualified mental health nurses.

Results

A qualitative content analysis resulted in three categories:

  1. Negative portrayals of mental illness;
  2. Inconclusive images of mental illness; and
  3. Biased dissemination of different perspectives.

Conclusions

The conclusion of this study is that mental health nurses experience media portrayals of mental illness as negative and misleading with too much emphasis on the medical perspective while a holistic mental health nursing perspective is heavily obscured.

Mental health nurses need to take a more prominent role in public reporting on mental health to resolve the current lack of relevant facts regarding mental illness.

Further research is needed regarding portrayals of mental illness in social media and how the current lack of perspectives affects public perceptions of mental illness.

In addition, further studies regarding the viewpoints of journalists reporting on mental illness are required.

Reference

Lilieqvist, M., Kling, S., Hallen, M. & Jormfeldt, H. (2020) Swedish Mental Health Nurses’ Experiences of Portrayals of Mental Illness in Public Media. Issues in Mental Health Nursing. 41(4), pp.348-354. doi: 10.1080/01612840.2019.1658244. Epub 2019 Nov 25.

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