Reducing Stigma in Media Professionals: Is there Room for Improvement? Results from a Systematic Review [2017]

The mass media may increase stigma against people with mental health problems by reinforcing common stereotypes. Media professionals thus represent a target group for antistigma interventions. This paper aims to review available literature on antistigma interventions for mass media professionals, seeking to clarify what kind of interventions have been found to be effective in reducing mental health stigma among mass media professionals.

Six electronic databases (MEDLINE, PsycINFO, Embase, Cochrane Reviews Library and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Web of Science, and Applied Social Sciences Index & Abstracts) were systematically searched through March 2017 for studies addressing antistigma interventions on mass media professionals. 

A total of 27 studies on antistigma interventions targeted to media professionals were found. Reviewed articles were classified into 3 categories: media-monitoring projects/reporting guidelines (n = 23), interventions for educating journalists (n = 2), and interventions for educating journalism students (n = 2). Overall, antistigma interventions for media professionals seem to have some effect in improving reporting style, thus providing a more balanced portrayal of people with mental health problems: the most promising interventions are contact-based educational approaches and the provision of guidelines by authoritative institutions.

It should be useful to promote and disseminate contact-based educational interventions targeted to journalists and to include specific modules on mental health topics in the training curricula of journalism students. However, as research in the field suffers from several limitations, high-quality studies exploring the long-term effect of antistigma interventions for media professionals are needed.

Alessandra Maiorano, MD, Antonio Lasalvia, MD, PhD, Gaia Sampogna, MD, Benedetta Pocai, MD, Mirella Ruggeri, MD, Claire Henderson, PhD
The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, Vol 62, Issue 10, 2017