Stigma: a linguistic analysis of the UK red-top tabloids press’ representation of schizophrenia

M Bowen, P Kinderman, A Cooke
  • Perspectives in Public Health, May 2019, SAGE Publications
  • DOI: 10.1177/1757913919835858

Stigma: a linguistic analysis of the UK red-top tabloids press’s representation of schizophrenia.

What is it about?

Media representations of mental health problems may influence readers’ understanding of, and attitude towards, people who have received psychiatric diagnoses. Negative beliefs and attitudes may then lead to discriminatory behaviour, which is understood as stigma. This study explored the language used in popular national newspapers when writing about schizophrenia and considered how this may have contributed to the processes of stigmatisation towards people with this diagnosis.

Why is it important?

Stigma towards people with a diagnosis of mental illness is a global public health issue that impacts negatively on a substantial number of people across a range of life areas. The press is just one element of this complex process. However, this study suggests that language used in this group of widely read newspapers may contribute to negative views of those diagnosed with schizophrenia, and particularly to a perceived association with violence. Such negative coverage in popular newspapers may well contribute to the processes of stigmatisation towards those who experience psychosis, many of whom have already experienced significant disadvantage, prejudice and discrimination.


Matt Bowen
University of Chester

This study uses a quantitative approach to studying language use with the press, which is an innovative method in the field of press representations of mental health.

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