Medical Reading

British Press Promotes "distorted Views Of Mental Illness" - New Research Suggests

March 27, 2017

Research carried out at the University of Leicester suggests that the British press may be guilty of misguiding the public and promoting distorted views of mental illness.

Both the tabloid and the broadsheet press have consistently given disproportionate and sensationalized coverage to psychotic illnesses such as schizophrenia, often linking them to serious crime. This is producing a very damaging misunderstanding not only of such psychotic conditions but is also damaging the portrayal of the more common neurotic illnesses, according to Leicester's Department of Media and Communication graduate, Katy-Louise Morgan.

Miss Morgan commented: "Despite an era of political correctness, the mentally ill are among the few remaining groups being continually subjected to stigmatization. This victimization is contributing towards prejudice amongst the public."

Psychotic illness is most commonly reported in connection with violent crimes such as murder, causing newspaper readers to make unrealistic links between mental illness and violent crimes.

Miss Morgan added, "The misconception is two-fold. Firstly, schizophrenia and other psychotic illnesses are actually among the least common of all mental illnesses. Secondly, not all schizophrenics are murderers nor conversely are all murderers schizophrenic." Indeed, most schizophrenic patients are not prone to violence.

"More disturbing is that an overrepresentation of psychosis within the British press could mean a greater generalisation of mental illness especially in the portrayals of neurosis. The worry here is that if the press maintains this representation of mental illness it could influence the public's perception and they may begin to see the two different diagnostic categories interchangeably. In their quest to sell more newspapers the British press is sacrificing an objective portrayal of mental illness. In order for mental illness to become more accepted and understood, more accurate and favourable presentations must be offered by the media"


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The University of Leicester is the UK's top ranked University for teaching quality and overall satisfaction amongst universities teaching full time students and was rated joint 1st in the UK in the 2005 National Student Survey. Founded in 1921, the University of Leicester has 19,000 students from 120 countries. Teaching in 18 subject areas has been graded Excellent by the Quality Assurance Agency- including 14 successive scores - a consistent run of success matched by just one other UK University.

Leicester is world renowned for the invention of DNA Fingerprinting by Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys and houses Europe's biggest academic Space Research Centre. 90% of staff are actively engaged in high quality research and 13 subject areas have been awarded the highest rating of 5* and 5 for research quality, demonstrating excellence at an international level. The University's research grant income places it among the top 20 UK research universities.

The University employs over 3,000 people, has a turnover of 167.5m, covers an estate of 94 hectares and is engaged in a 300m investment programme- among the biggest of any UK university.

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