The press & mental illness: a study by Mary O’Hara the team Mary O’Hara: Alistair Cooke Fulbright Scholar Professor Stephen Hinshaw: UC Berkeley Research assistants: Robert Villaneuva Laura Gildengoran Natalia Garcia Robert Villaneuva On the agenda Mental illness & the media in context Research objectives Methodology Key findings Conclusions and next steps Mental health in context what we know 1 in 4 people will experience a mental illness at some point in their lives stigma affects millions of people the media plays a key role Why do this research? Research objectives research questions What are the differences and similarities in the coverage of mental illness in mainstream press in the US and the UK? Has coverage altered over time and if so, in what ways? Are there things to learn about trends from looking at much older coverage? research objectives To evaluate coverage of mental illness in a range of mainstream newspapers over a significant timeframe in the US and the UK To ascertain if the way coverage is ‘advertised’ - ie: headlines - differs from from the content of articles To chart trends in coverage over time within each country research objectives To draw comparisons between the two countries To establish if further research is warranted “Specific newspapers, such as the New York Times and Washington Post, have an even greater influence on the national and international news agenda because they serve as sources of news that many other outlets look to in making their own programming and editorial decisions. So while the overall audience for newspapers has declined over recent years, newspapers still play a large and consequential role in setting the overall news agenda that cannot be strictly quantified or justified by circulation data alone.” The Pew Centre Project for Excellence in Journalism News Coverage Index Methodology the papers The New York Times The Washington Post The Chicago Tribune The LA Times The Guardian The Times The Daily Mail The Sun The London Evening Standard data capture Lexus Nexus software Online archives All text was scanned for key mental health words and terms data analysis Headlines - large sample Full text - smaller, de-limited pilot of articles sampling 1985-2009 time frame Three single years selected with no less than 10 year intervals. Years: 1985, 1995 & 2009 Sampling of headlines and articles from the first three months of each year coding 3 research assistants coded all material Thorough inter-coder training and testing Coder agreement well above accepted levels of reliability for textual analysis housekeeping variables Number of words Date of publication Type of publication Type of coverage critical variables Topics Mental health conditions Tone main topics 18 main topics including suicide, murders or violent crimes committed by a person with a mental illness, the psychiatric profession, wellbeing, stigma, treatment issues, therapies & causes of mental illness secondary-topics 30 secondary topics including: gender, race, age, addiction, public policy, celebrity, the justice system, first-person stories, funding, wider healthcare provision, the pharmaceutical industry, disability & mental health professionals conditions Severe mental disorders Other common mental disorders Other disorders Generic references Wrongly labelled Unclear Tone tone: 4 point scale positive neutral negative sensationalist Nutter Psycho Schizo Slaughtered Butchered Massacred Berserk Rampage Deranged Crazed messages Risk of violence or association with violence Recovery Prevention Risks & causes of mental illness Commonness or rarity Capability/competence Treatment Attitudes Other subsidiary research Small randomised sample from 1900 & 1950 Titles with the most robust archive data Coded as per the main sample The findings Tone Tone: articles (US) Overall Tone: articles (US) Change over time Tone: articles (UK) Overall Tone: articles (UK) Change over time But.... Tone: articles (Broadsheet only) Messages Risk of violence or association with violence Recovery Prevention Risks & causes of mental illness Commonness or rarity Capability/competence Treatment Attitudes Other Tone: headlines (US) 237 messages from166 headlines Tone: messages (US) Overall Tone: messages (US) Change over time Change over time Tone: headlines (UK) 192 messages from 151 headlines Tone: messages (UK) Overall Tone: messages (UK) Change over time But... Tone: messages (UK) Overall Broadsheet Change over time (UK) Broadsheet Articles vs headlines UK There is no evidence that headlines are more negative than articles but... There are more sensationalist headlines than sensationalist articles US Headlines are significantly more negative (58%) than articles (35%) There are marginally more sensationalist articles than headlines but the number overall is extremely small Tone: US vs UK Some conclusions Over time articles & headlines in the UK have become more negative with the exception of broadsheets which have done the opposite. In the US headlines have become steadily more negative while articles have become more neutral There are very few overtly sensationalist headlines or articles in either country in any year The UK has higher proportions of positive articles and headlines largely attributable to broadsheets Messages Risk of violence or association with violence Recovery Prevention Risks & causes of mental illness Commonness or rarity Capability/competence Treatment Attitudes Other Most common message UK Risk of violence 15% of all messages 93% of these were either negative or sensationalist US Risk of violence 18% of all messages 86% of these were negative or sensationalist Types of coverage % Type of coverage UK Types of coverage by headline tone US UK Types of coverage some conclusions US: ‘News’ accounts for 54% of overall coverage but 60% of negative coverage UK: ‘News’ accounts for 47% of overall coverage but 57% of negative coverage News is more negative than features in both countries Language What’s in a word... ‘Crazed’ ‘Maniac’ ‘Madman’ ‘Nuts’ ‘Monster’ Language Pejorative language was evident in all years studied in both countries UK newspapers - including broadsheets - were far more likely to use pejorative language than their US counterparts Conditions Conditions Specific conditions were much less likely to be mentioned in headlines than general references to, for example, ‘mental illness’ This pattern was the same in both countries and over all years Conditions Depression - including bi-polar disorder/manic depression - is the most commonly mentioned condition in newspapers in both countries There is no evidence that coverage of depression is more prevalent now than it was 25 years ago Schizophrenia is the second most mentioned condition but it is rarely referred to by headlines Coverage of some conditions such as PTSD is a recent phenomenon Topics Main Topics UK (headlines) 1. Suicide 2. Mental health services 3. Lifestyle & wellbeing 4. Murder by a person with a mental illness US (headlines) 1. Suicide 2. Mental health services 3. Lifestyle & wellbeing 7. Murder by a person with a mental illness Main Topics UK (articles) 1. Mental health services 2. Suicide 3. Lifestyle & wellbeing 8. Murder by a person with a mental illness US (articles) 1. Mental health services 2. Suicide 3. Prevalence/causes 4. Murder by a person with a mental illness Main topics: other findings Psychiatry, the psychiatric profession and therapist/therapies featured much more in the US than in UK coverage Stories about overcoming adversity featured more in the US coverage Mentions of stigma or discrimination rarely appeared in headlines or articles in either country Secondary topics UK (headlines) 1. Gender 2. First-person 3. Criminal justice 4. Inquest 5. Children/teens US (headlines) 1. Inquest 2. Children/teens 3. MH profession 4. Gender 5. Armed forces Secondary topics UK (articles) 1. Gender 2. Public policy or legislation/wider healthcare system/inquests/symptoms/celebrity or public figure US (articles) 1. Gender 2. Children or teens/inquest 3. MH profession 4. Public policy or legislation Secondary topics: other findings Race/ethnicity was mentioned very rarely in either US or UK coverage Secondary topics: other findings UK articles and headlines were much more likely to mention celebrities and public figures and the number of mentions jumped significantly in 2009 The pharmaceutical industry barely registers in either country in headlines or articles Suicide: a special case? Suicide: an overview Volume of coverage extremely high Levels of coverage almost identical in both countries Broadsheets and tabloids equally interested Cross-references Cross-references Only 7 out of 166 articles in US publications included an explicit helpline or other mechanism for seeking help Only 8 out of 151 articles in UK publications provided a cross-ref and all of these were in 2009 older sample A different world? 1900 Articles 1950 Articles A different world? 1900 Headlines 1950 Headlines What the papers said What the papers said What the papers said What the papers said Conclusions In conclusion More research on trends in coverage is warranted Further investigation of editorial decision-making processes and the cultural influences informing them would be valuable Thank You.