Introduction People diagnosed with schizophrenia face numerous daily battles with managing the symptoms of their involuntary condition in order to live a healthy fulfilling life. However public perceptions of schizophrenia have been vastly influenced by the media’s negative portrayal of mental health, with the emphasis on schizophrenia. Key messages in media have predominantly shaped the public’s understanding and attitude toward people with schizophrenia by frequently associating it with unpredictability, violence and danger.
Focusing on how newspaper article’s shape public opinion, attitudes and behaviour toward individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia. Health messages in the media Studies have suggested that people obtain most health-related information from media sources such as breakthroughs in health research, campaigns raising awareness of specific health issues and available health services (Schwitzer, 2004).
The use of mass media is an established strategy in communicating health information to the public and does so in a variety of ways to ensure utilisation of health services such as immunisations, birth control, risk prevention and so forth (Razak 1992). Ramsay and Minozzi used several methods in an attempt to assess the effects of mass media on the utilisation of health services and concluded that with poor quality primary research and limited information there was still evidence to suggest mass media was a leading source of information about important health issues (Ramsay and Minozzi, 1996).
For further reading about this study Thave included the link below: http://onlinelibrary. wiley. com/ doi/10. 1002/14651858. CD000389/pdf Mass media has played a key role in society for many years, it provides information from around the world that people would not usually have access too. Messages in the media keep people informed on things like health service provision, economics, policy changes, crime and do so in a variety of ways such as: leaflets, newspaper publications, television adverts, billboards and so forth.
Mass media draws the public’s attention to particular issues, placing more emphasis on certain topics, so they appear to be of more importance to the reader. Walter Lippmann’s book Public Opinion outlined that media is “The principal connection between events in the world and the images in the minds of the public” (Lippmann, 1922). The chapter titled “The world outside and the pictures in our head” is linked below for further reading: http://xroads. irginia. edu/-hyper/lippman/ch01. html The way the news is portrayed and how it shapes society in presenting a mediated view of the world, that potentially influences the attitudes, views and opinions on topics that are made to appear more superior to others, which through further research by Maxwell McCombs and Donald Shaw led to the agenda setting theory. “What we think we know about the world, is largely based on what the media decide to tell us”. McCombs and Shaw, 1972)
A research article linked below is an informative read on how media influences frontline heath care in the uk from a primary care nurse perspective: http:// bmcfampract. biomedcentral. com/articles/ 10. 1186/1471-2296-14-178#CR4 Chosen Article The chosen article was written by journalist Andrew Gilligan and was published on 5th October 2013 in the telegraph newspaper whom describes itself as a “Quality broadsheet newspaper, renowned as a reliable source for breaking news” http:// www. telegraph. o. uk/news/uknews/crime/10358251/Truthabout-dangerous-mental-patients-let-out-to-kill. html The headlines “Truth about dangerous mental patients let out to kill” Firstly, this headline suggests that the public were being kept in dark regarding about threats to their safety, the wording used in the headline is to capture the reader’s attention and arouse fear of people with mental health conditions which may cause some people to consciously distant themselves which further isolates people with mental health conditions.
The NHS trust that left a dangerous schizophrenic to kill a Birmingham schoolgirl allowed six other patients to kill people last year alone, The Telegraph has learnt. ” By expanding the headline in a similar derogatory tone keeps the reader interested so they are more likely to continue reading the article. The terms “Dangerous mental patients” and “dangerous schizophrenic” is the start of the stigma process. Labelling people who have been diagnosed with a mental health condition predominantly schizophrenia as dangerous and violent.
Furthermore, implying that they were “let out to kill” is suggesting a diagnosis of schizophrenia means an indefinite sentence in a secure unit away from society is the only safe option. This enforces the “us and them” ideology (Olstead, 2002). Presentation and wording of chosen article The article is focused on failings within the NHS Mental Health Services, predominantly aimed at the Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Trust. The article uses various individual tragedies as the driving force in highlighting that service provision is inadequate, and that measures need to put in place to keep the public safe.
The article reports on a cluster of tragic events which can overshadow positive news and reinforce negative stereotypes of people with schizophrenia. The article has been written in a negative tone, grouping all people diagnosed with schizophrenia as a risk to society, which socially stigmatises people with schizophrenia. Personal opinions from victim’s family members are used to induce an emotional response from the reader, frustration and anger from the victim’s family toward the NHS mental health services is emphasised in a way that negatively influences public opinion.
The article suggests that NHS respondents are “playing down” incidents and using excuses in order to conceal failures, this may plant the seed for an inquisitive mind to want to know the reasons behind putting them in danger. Statements followed by statistics, in order to validate them are used throughout the article to lead the reader into thinking that the issue is more prominent than it actually is, all of this may contribute to changing the public’s attitude toward people with schizophrenia alongside loss of confidence or respect for officials within the NHS services.
There is little regard in the use of politically correct terminology referring to people diagnosed with schizophrenia as “dangerous schizophrenic” and “schizophrenics”. Defining a person by their diagnosis removes their sense of self, they are no longer seen as an individual, instead labelled by the distorted characteristics of violence thus diminishing confidence and selfesteem. Previous individual factual tragedies are used to reinforce fictional depictions about schizophrenia to provoke anxiety and, signalling the presence of danger to the reader.
Comments made by Mrs Westley’s family place further emphasise on the “us and them” ideology. “He has done one of the most atrocious deeds, and yet he has more rights than | have as a victim”. It is understandable that the families of victims are in search of answers from care providers who may have failed to act on concerns, however these unfortunate incidents are thankfully not very frequent.
The Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness (2014) by Manchester university reported that “The figures for homicide by patients with schizophrenia in 2009-2012 are the lowest in the report period and the lowest since data collection began in 1997” Schizophrenia is a biological and medical enigma and one of the most incapacitating mental illnesses, symptoms are extremely diverse and involve almost all cognitive and emotional systems in the body (Tulving, 2013), schizophrenia is without a doubt a very distressing condition for anyone to live with.
The prevalence of new cases per year is approximately 15 per 100,000 people (Kelly et al. , 2003), however evidence still suggests that people with schizophrenia are no more prone to violence than the general population. “The magnitude of the relationship is greatly exaggerated in the minds of the general population” (Hiday, 2006). As the cause of schizophrenia is yet to be identified there is no single cure to treat it, although symptoms can be successfully managed through a person centred holistic approach, using medication and various outpatient therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy.
Yet there is a notable absence of any information about what schizophrenia is, how it affects people and how it can be managed effectively, in the vast amount of written articles reporting on a violent incident involving a person diagnosed with schizophrenia there is an ignorance and clear lack of knowledge, understanding and information.
The article has included statistical data to better inform the reader, however quotes from Mr Hendry whom set up a support group for victims of violence by the mentally ill called ‘Hundred Families’ following the tragic loss of his father, is strategically placed after the statistical information, which challenges how accurate it is “Mr Hendy said the figures still understate the problem, since they count only convictions, not victims. Nor do they include a further 29 homicides by people who were mentally ill, but whose condition was not known to the NHS.
Furthermore, Mr Hendry states “If they tackle the violence, they will tackle the stigma. If you don’t tackle it, you tar every patient with the same brush. ” However, there is no clear indication on what Mr Hendry believes would be effective in tackling “the violence” and reporting in this way without any background information to put the perpetrators actions into any kind of context is not very fair as the state of mind at the time of incident is unknown, not that any explanation can justify these tragic incidents, having some knowledge of the effects Schizophrenia has on a person allows people to at least empathise.
The article points out failures in the NHS mental health services on particular cases, in hope of initiating a change in service provision to ensure people diagnosed with schizophrenia receive the proper support. Though this article punishes the majority for the actions of the few by demonising people diagnosed with mental health conditions. Schizophrenia is plagued by inaccurate descriptors from the media which forms public opinion, influences actions and leads to stigmatisation.
The National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness (2014) found that between 2008 and 2011, 2,056 people diagnosed with a mental illness were unemployed, 917 people diagnosed with a mental illness were either homeless or living in unsuitable accommodation and furthermore in the same period there were 3,590 confirmed patient suicides which represents an average of 1,248 patient suicides a year, the statistics that represent a minority of the struggles someone with a mental health condition face are rarely if ever the main highlight of a newspaper article, personal recovery journey’s also rarely appear in the media, this could further isolate someone diagnosed with schizophrenia but above all else removes any chance of hope which essentially could be a contributing factor to the high rates of suicide.