Representations of mental illness in Irish newspapers and readers' attitudes

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Ryan, Adam
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BA (Hons) in Psychology
Dublin Business School
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This study aimed to examine the representations of mental illness in Irish newspapers and readers’ attitudes. A sample of articles in Irish newspapers were analysed using the PICMIN instrument. A questionnaire including the Mental Illness Stigma Scale, newspaper reading and an adaptation of the Scepticism towards the Media scale was completed by 106 respondents. Findings sensationalism and stigmatisation was present in Irish newspapers and related to the section of the newspapers and sources of information. Stigmatisating attitudes were comparable to another study using the same measure. The relationship between newspaper reading habits and attitudes was not significant as respondents were highly sceptical towards media reporting of mental illness. Results suggest the need for standardising measures of stigmatisation in the media.