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Schizophr Bull. 2004;30(3):543-61.

Images of mental illness in the media: identifying gaps in the research.

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  • 1Department of Advertising, University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station A1200, Austin, TX 78712, USA.


This article summarizes research published over the past decade and identifies areas where future research is needed to increase our knowledge of the media's role in fostering or reducing mental illness stigma. The following questions are addressed: (1) How is mental illness portrayed by the media? (2) How do media images of mental illness impact individuals' knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors with regard to mental illness? (3) How can the media be used to reduce mental illness stigma? The review reveals a lack of recent research on the U.S. media and a need for precision in how mental illness and the media are defined for study. Research is needed that involves a broader range of media channels as well as more distinctions among different types of content within channels and a more detailed analysis of media images themselves. The largest gap to be addressed is the link between exposure to media images and mental illness stigma. Use of the media as a tool for change requires a better understanding of what messages are conveyed, how they are developed, and what role media content producers play in creating these messages.

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