For most people, media are an important source of information about mental health. Inadequate coverage of mental illness may have a negative impact on public attitudes toward consumers of mental health services. The aim of this article is to identify the content and quality of newspaper articles reporting on schizophrenia. Articles between 2008 and 2011 were analyzed (N=79). First, we used a frame of reference for identifying depictions of schizophrenia in newspapers, proposed by Knifton et al. (2008). Second, after analyzing several media guidelines for reporting on schizophrenia, we derived key indicators of quality reporting, including labels, trivialization of illness and unbalanced storyline. The results show that there were more negative themes than positive ones. Moreover, while the percentage of the dangerousness theme (38%) was higher than the overall percentage of positive themes (22%), discrimination was the least debated issue (6%). In regard to labels, the most prevalent (63%) had a low level of political correctness (“mentally ill”, “mental patient”). The stories were unbalanced, portraying persons with schizophrenia as victims of the illness and as offenders. It appears that the media take a more negative stance towards schizophrenia, spreading a distorted image of people with schizophrenia, which might contribute to stigma.
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