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Open Access Highly Accessed Correspondence

Newspaper coverage of mental illness in the UK, 1992-2008

Robert Goulden*, Elizabeth Corker, Sara Evans-Lacko, Diana Rose, Graham Thornicroft and Claire Henderson

Author Affiliations

Section of Community Mental Health, Health Service and Population Research Department, PO Box 29, King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, De Crespigny Park, London SE5 8AF, UK

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:796  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-796

Published: 12 October 2011

Abstract

Background

Recent years have seen a number of attempts to reduce the stigma related to mental illness; the media can play a significant role in perpetuating this stigma. This paper analyses trends in newspaper coverage of mental illness in the UK between 1992-2008 across a range of psychiatric diagnoses.

Methods

A content analysis was performed on a sample of articles (n = 1361) about mental illness in a range of UK newspapers in 1992, 2000, and 2008.

Results

There was a significant proportional reduction in negative articles about mental illness between 1992 and 2008, and a significant increase in articles explaining psychiatric disorders. Coverage improved for depression but remained largely negative for schizophrenia.

Conclusions

Newspaper coverage of mental illness became less stigmatising overall in the 1990s and 2000s, but this was not true for all diagnoses.