Irish Examiner: Online news reporting on psychosis and schizophrenia needs to challenge stigma
Dr Karen O’Connor, Lead of the National Clinical Programme for Early Intervention in Psychosis (EIP) is interviewed as part of a piece by the Irish Examiner looking at research into media representation for those who have experienced psychosis, recovery and barriers to access in the face of stigma.
Read the article in full on the Irish Examiner website here, and read selected quotes below.
New research from the University of Galway’s PSYcHE project examines media coverage relating to serious mental illnesses including schizophrenia and psychosis. Out of 656 articles analysed, researchers note,
…that while the overwhelming majority of articles avoided reinforcing stigma, very few articles actively challenged negative public perceptions. Only 12% provided information that confronted stereotypes, less than 3% included a contribution from someone with lived experience, and just 5% supplied a signpost to relevant support services.
Media portrayals of schizophrenia and other related disorders also tend to overlook the possibility for recovery, something Dr Karen O’Connor, Consultant Specialist in psychiatry and Clinical Lead for the Early Intervention for Psychosis (EIP) programme is quick to highlight:
O’Connor emphasizes that 60-70% of individuals with psychosis can achieve full recovery or symptom resolution to the point of leading independent lives.
While relapses can occur for some, O’Connor notes that EIP teams now offer a broad range of treatment options, including medication, cognitive behavioural therapy for psychosis (CBTp) and trauma-informed care, as well employment, physical health, and family supports.
Worryingly, 60% of the published articles mentioning psychosis were based in reporting incidences of violence or crime, further perpetuating stigma for this vulnerable cohort of people. In contrast, Dr O’Connor clarifies that,
…people living with psychosis are far more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators.
Research has shown that individuals with schizophrenia in the community are up to 14 times more likely to be victims of violence than to commit it, with victimization rates 65-130% higher than the general public.
On barriers to accessing care:
According to O’ Connor, access to an EIP service is crucial for timely treatment and recovery, but the “lack of recovery-oriented voices” can discourage individuals from seeking care.
Stigma also restricts funding for developing and expanding services, with only 18% of adults currently able to access EIP teams in the event of an episode of psychosis.