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Media Reporting Mental Illness Better: Report

Print media and mental illness – how well does it report it?

New Zealand’s print media should be congratulated for the improvement in the way it reports mental health issues, according to the Mental Health Commission.

Compared with a similar study done in 1998, a study investigating reporting of mental health issues in 2004 showed a significant improvement in the way people with experience of mental illness were represented by the print media.

Mental Health Commissioner Mary O’Hagan says that while it is important to be aware that there are ebbs and flows in the media in relation to particular topics, she was heartened by the improvement.

“In the 1998 study there were few clippings referring to mental health that were positive, and violence was a common theme.

“The 2004 study showed fewer clippings portraying mental health negatively and more with a positive approach. There was a notable increase in the number of positive personal stories, and less sensationalised reporting on crime and violence,” she says.

“Various agencies, including the Commission, have undertaken activities focused on raising awareness of mental health issues and the effect that negative reporting has on people with experience of mental illness.

“I congratulate print media for these encouraging results. The media has a potent role in shaping public attitudes, and we would like to applaud those newspapers and reporters who have contributed to the positive changes,” says Ms O’Hagan.

Click here for a copy of the report…


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