Mental Health Inthe Media

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In an attempt to form a concrete understanding of the position taken by media in the construction of our personal opinion, this report will look at whether the media portrays mental illness in a positive or a negative light. A study conducted by the University of Glasgow Media Group resulted in 40% of the sample consisting of public members reporting that they believed mental illness was associated with violence, and stated that the media was the source of their beliefs (Cutcliffe & Hannigan, 2001). In reverse, Ward (1997) illustrates a more positive image of mental health patients. In which he states that mental health problems are treatable and that people with mental distress lead worthwhile lives. However, television representations do little to convince the public that it is possible for individuals suffering from mental distress to recover and become productive members of society (Wahl OF, Roth R., 1982. Mentally ill characters are portrayed as significantly more violent than other characters in newspaper articles; they also have been represented as significantly more violent than real people with a mental illness (Thornton JA, Wahl OF, 1996). Audiences viewing these kinds of movies and most importantly individuals suffering from mental distress and their families are the prey of such publications. As those who design and purchase television and newspaper advertisements are well aware, the media can be a powerful tool in shaping public perceptions on any number of topics. McKeown & Clancy (1995) suggest that the relationship between media images and attitudes towards mental illness is a circular one. Negative media images promote negative attitudes, with further media coverage tending to feed off already-negative public perceptions. Glasson 1996) argued that mass media sensationalization has reinforced the public’s already negative view of mentally ill people and Repper (1997) pointed out that the public’s understanding of mental health problems is...
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