Media's Influence On Mental Illness

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The mass media plays a major role in shaping people’s knowledge, attitudes and behavior. Illuminating the way in which the media influences the public in an area like mental illness is particularly vital, because the public’s understanding of mental disorders is less than optimal and stigma is a widespread problem. Various studies have demonstrated that the influence the media holds, combined with the frequency of use, makes it one of the most significant influencers of societal attitudes (Edney, 2004). People are influenced by what they see, read and hear. The media encourages people to buy things they see in a commercial, informs them of the latest trends, and also influences behavior. The media has become so authoritative, because people tend to trust messages delivered by the media. Additionally, according to Edney (2004), most people are unable to critically assess this media information, and, as a result, do not seek to refute it. This becomes worrying because media today is widely available and easy accessible. What happens when the media sends a regular message that helps to create negative attitudes toward a group of people? This can be seen by the representation of mentally ill people in the media. Extensive research has shown that the media is the…show more content…
Media presentation of mental illness validate negative attitudes and stereotypes that provide a false association between mental illness and violence (Francis et al., 2001). A common theme from studies of news reporting is that media representation of mental health is often negative in tone. This is largely due to the type of news story covered, with a large amount of coverage focusing on crimes committed by those with mental health problems. This type of media reporting has often been criticized as helping propagate structural stigma around mental

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