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Reading: Media portrayal of psychosis in Sinhalese newspapers over two points (1986 and 2011) in time

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Original Papers

Media portrayal of psychosis in Sinhalese newspapers over two points (1986 and 2011) in time

Author:

P. Wickrama

Base Hospital, Chilaw, LK
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Abstract

Background

Stigma affects patients with mental illness, their families and treatment providers. The way in which the media portray mental illness often propagates stigma. This area has not been studied in Sri Lanka.

Aims

To evaluate the coverage of mental illness (psychosis) in Sinhalese newspapers during two periods in time.

Methods

Relevant articles were identified using pre-identified search terms from two major daily Sinhalese newspapers published over 8 weeks in 1986 and 2011. Selected articles were categorised based on whether they were directly related to psychosis or used search terms as adjectives. The content of articles directly related to psychosis were analysed under six themes and rated for two key messages.

Results

Out of 180 articles identified, 99 were directly related to psychosis and 81 used the search terms as adjectives. There were only 9 medical news reports. Of the directly related articles, 27% discussed the theme of psychotic patients being dangerous and 21% discussed the causation of illness, mostly highlighting the environmental factors. While 32% articles discussed treatment, biological forms of treatment were rarely discussed. The only difference between the two periods was the reduction of advocacy articles in 2011. A limited number of articles discussed prevention or the importance of an exact diagnosis. Only 15% of articles carried the message that mental illness is treatable, while 56% of articles portrayed mental health negatively.

Conclusion

There was no evidence of improvement in reporting of psychosis in Sinhalese newspapers over the last 25 years. Addressing this would help in reducing stigma associated with psychiatric illness.
DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/sljpsyc.v7i1.8097
How to Cite: Wickrama, P., (2016). Media portrayal of psychosis in Sinhalese newspapers over two points (1986 and 2011) in time. Sri Lanka Journal of Psychiatry. 7(1), pp.9–14. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/sljpsyc.v7i1.8097
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Published on 29 Jun 2016.
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