Stigma in the media: Investigating journalism student’s attitudes towards mental illness

Publication Name

International Journal of Mental Health Nursing


Given the profound role that media play in public opinion, there exists an ongoing necessity to understand the portrayal of mental illness by journalists. There is a plethora of studies that have examined how mental illness is portrayed in the media, but few studies have sought to understand what journalist opinions about mental illness are, and none could be found regarding journalism students’ opinions. This study aimed to bridge this gap by examining journalism student’s attitudes towards mental illness using the Social Distance Scale (SDS). This study adheres to STROBE guidelines for cross-sectional studies. One hundred and seventy-two undergraduate journalism students (n = 172) completed the SDS with findings suggesting that students had moderate stigmatizing attitudes, with varying degrees of stigma present depending on the social context. Positively framed reporting and constructive media coverage surrounding mental illness may be improved by shared communication and education with health professionals who specialize in mental health: mental health nurses.

Open Access Status

This publication is not available as open access



Link to publisher version (DOI)