A Thematic Analysis of Mental Illness in New Zealand News Articles
Fernandez, B. (2014). A Thematic Analysis of Mental Illness in New Zealand News Articles (Thesis, Master of Social Sciences (MSocSc)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/9290
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/9290
Mental illness is one of the main reasons for disability in the western world with one in five individuals being classed as mentally ill during some time in their life. As a concept, mental illness has a strong presence in the consciousness of society. However, conceptualising mental illness has always been complicated. It is not surprising that certain stereotypic/misinformed views have prevailed in society and media due to the complicated nature of mental illness. Media, especially news media, are one of the main sources of information about mental illness for the public. Opinions and understandings of mental illness are actively shaped by the mass media like news articles. This thesis includes a thematic analysis of the portrayal of mental illness in thirty New Zealand news articles taken from six major national papers. A literature review on the portrayal of mental illness in media with a specific focus on news articles was conducted. Inductive thematic analysis was used to code the data in news articles where no a priori, explicit theory was employed. The three major themes I identified were: things that compromise mental health (and/or physical health); characteristics of (people with) mental health problems; ways of helping people and communities affected by mental illness. Various sub-themes of each of these major themes were identified and discussed. The implications of these findings were outlined in the light of previous research on this topic.
University of Waikato
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