Stigmatization of persons with mental illness may be perpetuated through media depictions. This study analyzed changes in the depiction of mental illness by Bermudian newspapers over 20 years.
All articles about mental illness in Bermuda’s newspapers in 1991, 2001, and 2011 (N=277) were coded for composition, language, consultations and quotations, and content.
A significant increase in mental health professional consultation was demonstrated. Articles with a negative overall tone constituted the largest percentage of all articles (40%) and of articles in 2001 (43%) and 2011 (42%). A significant difference was found in primary theme; between 1991 and 2011, articles with an education and information theme dropped from 40% to 18% and articles about violent crime increased from 12% to 18%.
The results may necessitate action from the island’s advocacy groups. The findings have implications for discussion with the national press.