Newspaper reporting of mental illness

Namino Ottewell*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine a time trend in newspaper reporting of mental illness in Japan between 1987 and 2014. Design/methodology/approach: Four high-circulation national newspapers (the Yomiuri newspaper, the Asahi newspaper, the Mainichi newspaper and the Nikkei Newspaper) were selected for analysis. Articles were analysed using qualitative content analysis (n=448). Findings: Whilst articles concerning the dangerousness of those with mental illness occupied a high proportion of coverage between 1987 and 2014, an overall shift is apparent whereby there is now more reporting of mental illness in relation to stress than in relation to dangerousness, particularly for depression. In contrast, schizophrenia was often reported in the context of violent crime. Information on the treatment, symptoms and prevalence of mental illness was rarely reported. Social implications: While the nature of newspaper coverage of mental illness has been changing, there still is over-representation of dangerousness of mental illness, particularly of schizophrenia. For improving the public’s images of mental illness, it is hoped to reduce the proportion of reporting about dangerousness and to increase the proportion of reporting about treatment, symptoms and prevalence of mental illness and personal stories of those affected. Originality/value: The present study is the first to examine changes in Japanese newspaper coverage over time and at the variation in reporting among diagnoses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-85
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Public Mental Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Depression
  • Japan
  • Media
  • Schizophrenia
  • Social attitudes
  • Stigma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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