Public Media: What about Mental Health Nurses?

Research Paper Title

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


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.


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


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.


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.


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.

On This Day … 08 August

  • Happiness Happens Day,

What is Happiness Happens Day?

In 1999 the Society declared 08 August as the “Admit You’re Happy Day”, now known as the “Happiness Happens Day”.

The idea was inspired by the event that happened the previous year on the same date- the first member joined the Society.

In 1998 the Society asked the governors in all 50 states for a proclamation, with nineteen of them sending one.

What is the Secret Society of Happy People?

Secret Society of Happy People (SOHP) is an organisation that celebrates the expression of happiness.

Founded in August 1998, the society encourages thousands of members from all around the globe to recognise their happy moments and think about happiness in their daily life.

Purpose of SOHP?

The Secret Society of Happy People supports people who want to share their happiness despite the ones who don’t want to hear happy news.

Their mottos include “Happiness Happens” and “Don’t Even Think of Raining on My Parade”.

The main purpose of the Society is to stimulate people’s right to express their happiness “as loud as they want”.

Other Events

  • Happiness Happens Month:
    • Celebration of happiness was expanded in 2000, and thanks to the support of not-so-secretly-happy members from around the world, the Society declared August as Happiness Happens Month.
    • The purpose of Happiness Happens Day and Month is to share happiness and encourage people to talk and think about happiness.
  • HappyThon:
    • Every year, the Society organises an online social media event known as HappyThon, on Happiness Happens Day.
    • The aim of this event is to send inspirational messages via social networks, emails or texts, share happy moments, philosophy, quotes, etc.
    • HappyThon is the first online social media event that promotes happiness around the world.
  • Since 1998 the Society have been organising voting and announcing the Happiest Events and Moments of the Year.
  • Before the end of the century, a vote for 100 of the Happiest Events, Inventions and Social Changes of the Century was organised.
  • In the third week of January the Society hosted Hunt for Happiness Week.
  • They asked the current governors for a proclamation, with seven of them providing one.

Book: The Big Disconnect – Protecting Childhood And Family Relationships In The Digital Age

Book Title:

The Big Disconnect – Protecting Childhood And Family Relationships In The Digital Age.

Author(s): Catherine Steiner-Adair.

Year: 2013.

Edition: First (1st).

Publisher: Harper.

Type(s): Hardcover and Paperback.


Clinical psychologist Catherine Steiner-Adair takes an in-depth look at how the Internet and the digital revolution are profoundly changing childhood and family dynamics, and offers solutions parents can use to successfully shepherd their children through the technological wilderness.

As the focus of the family has turned to the glow of the screen – children constantly texting their friends or going online to do homework; parents working online around the clock – everyday life is undergoing a massive transformation. Easy access to the Internet and social media has erased the boundaries that protect children from damaging exposure to excessive marketing and the unsavoury aspects of adult culture. Parents often feel they are losing a meaningful connection with their children. Children are feeling lonely and alienated. The digital world is here to stay, but what are families losing with technology’s gain?

As renowned clinical psychologist Catherine Steiner-Adair explains, families are in crisis as they face this issue, and even more so than they realise. Not only do chronic tech distractions have deep and lasting effects but children also desperately need parents to provide what tech cannot: close, significant interactions with the adults in their lives. Drawing on real-life stories from her clinical work with children and parents and her consulting work with educators and experts across the country, Steiner-Adair offers insights and advice that can help parents achieve greater understanding, authority, and confidence as they engage with the tech revolution unfolding in their living rooms.

Linking Attitudes towards Mental Illness & the Media

Research Paper Title

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


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.


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.


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.


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


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].

Is There a Link between News Coverage & Trauma Symptoms?

When something terrible happens in the world, it’s not uncommon to scroll through social media or flip through television channels in search of news coverage. But such media exposure may fuel post-traumatic stress symptoms for years afterwards – and could also drive someone to consume further distressing media.

With high-consequence events where we do not know why they happened, there is a fundamental drive to want to consume information until you get your head around it. Research suggests it may be a function of threat avoidance or wanting to return to some kind of rational understanding of the world around us.

Roxane Silver at the University of California, Irvine, and her colleagues surveyed a representative sample of more than 4400 US residents in the days after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Each person was also asked how many hours of related media coverage they consumed in three follow-up periods:

  • Six months after the bombing;
  • On its second anniversary; and
  • Five days after the 2016 mass shooting in the Pulse nightclub in Florida.

On average, the people surveyed consumed about 6 hours of media a day about the Boston bombing immediately after the event and a little more than 3 hours per day of media about the Pulse shooting.

Those who sought out more media about the bombing – whether or not they had a history of mental health conditions – were more likely to have trauma-related stress symptoms, such as upsetting thoughts, flashbacks and emotional distress, six months later (Thompson et al., 2019).

Two years after the bombing, such people were also more likely to worry about other events of mass violence occurring in the future, and consumed more coverage of the subsequent Pulse shooting.


Thompson, R.R., Jones, N.M., Holman, E.A. & Silver, R.C. (2019) Media Exposure to Mass Violence Events can Fuel a Cycle of Distress. Science Advances. 5(4), eaav3502. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aav3502.

Whyte, C. (2019) New Coverage Link to Trauma Symptoms. New Scientist. 27 April 2019, pp.16.