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Media portrayals of mental disorder in Saudi Arabia: a review of popular newspapers

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)428-442
Number of pages15
JournalTranscultural Psychiatry
Volume56
Issue number2
Early online date11 Jan 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019

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Abstract

Newspapers are influential sources of information and opinion on mental health, but careless reporting may reinforce stigma. This review examined portrayals of mental disorder in Saudi Arabian newspapers. A cross-sectional sample (N = 200) of relevant articles was obtained from four of the most popular newspapers. These were categorised for descriptive and thematic analysis, using an established framework. The theme of highest frequency was advocacy, actions, and concerns; such articles were likely to have a positive impact by raising public awareness. Similarly, numerous reports with the theme of treatment and recovery informed readers of developments in mental health care, potentially breaking down barriers to seeking help. The theme of blame was found in a quarter of the articles; in addition to discussing environmental and genetic factors, there were several commentaries or reports on spiritual possession, which could perpetuate stigmatising ideas. While portrayals of mental disorder in Saudi newspapers show similarities to media coverage in other countries, distinct cultural perspectives were evident, including the prevailing notion of the ‘evil eye’. The authors recommend collaboration of mental health experts, patients and family carers to devise guidelines for more accurate reporting of mental disorder by Saudi media.

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