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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 36  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 258-261

Portrayal of mental health in the newspapers from Chennai: A cross-sectional survey

Schizophrenia Research Foundation, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Vijaya Raghavan
Schizophrenia Research Foundation, R/7A, North Main Road, Anna Nagar West Extension, Chennai - 600 101, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijsp.ijsp_69_19

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Background: Newspapers are the most widely used mode for daily news and information. However, studies have shown that mental health continues to be portrayed in a negative light in the newspapers, and various factors could lead to this poor reporting of mental health. Thus, the aim of this study was to understand how mental health news and information are portrayed in the leading print newspapers of Chennai. Materials and Methods: Four top newspapers, three in English and one in the vernacular language (Tamil), were selected. The articles related to mental health were identified, collected, synthesized, and analyzed for the content and communication methods. Appropriate qualitative and quantitative statistical analysis was used. Results: Most of the articles were on positive mental health, followed by addiction. Less number of articles were on depression. The vernacular papers were found to be using a more dramatic linguistic approach while writing their news reports. The suicide helpline number was not present in most articles in both the English and vernacular newspapers. The media professionals were focusing more on the promotion/prevention approach of mental health with little emphasis on mental illness. Conclusion: As the current trend is toward a more preventative approach, an increasing number of articles on positive psychology are published in the newspapers. Prescribed guidelines for reporting suicide were also not followed, predominantly in the vernacular papers. This highlights the need for dissemination and training on existing guidelines for better reporting of mental health among journalists.

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