Anna Ross
Anna Ross

Anna Ross

Mental Health Research

‘Mitigating the impact of the media on stigmatising attitudes towards people with severe mental illness’

University of Melbourne, VIC
Awarded 2019

“Improving media reporting of severe mental illness (SMI) will reduce the adverse impacts of stigma on the lives of people with SMI, thus playing a significant role in improving quality of life and recovery.”

Ian Scott Mental Health PhD Scholarships

Researcher Profile

Anna has worked in mental health research for 8 years, starting at Orygen Youth Health and then the Centre for Mental Health within the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health. Prior to commencing her PhD, she also worked in staff health and wellbeing.

She has a Master of Psychology (Clinical) from RMIT University, where she also completed her honours studies in Psychology, and a Bachelor of Science from Monash University. Anna grew up on a sheep farm in South Western Victoria and moved to Melbourne to attend university and pursue her passion for learning.

Project Summary

Stigma is a multidimensional concept that includes negative attitudes and discriminatory behaviours towards people with a mental illness. Stigma towards people with severe mental illness (SMI) – including schizophrenia, psychosis and bipolar disorder- is a critical issue as it adversely impacts life satisfaction, self-esteem, help-seeking behaviours, treatment adherence, and overall recovery. The media is known to be a key source of information about mental illness, which warrants further research into investigating its influence on stigma towards people with SMI. Targeting stigma reduction interventions to media professionals presents a substantial opportunity to reduce stigma on a widespread scale.

My PhD research aims to reduce stigma and discrimination towards people with severe mental illness (SMI) through improving media reporting. This involves developing and trialling media reporting guidelines that encourage balanced and responsible portrayals of SMI.

More specifically, the 4 aims of my research are to:

  1. Conduct a systematic review the research literature on the influence of news media and social media on stigmatising attitudes towards people with severe mental illness, and interventions that aim to mitigate any adverse influence;
  2. Conduct focus groups to gain an understanding of the perspectives of media professionals, people with SMI and mental health professionals in regard to media reporting on SMI;
  3. Develop best practice guidelines for media reporting on SMI, and;
  4. Develop a brief intervention to implement the guidelines as a stigma reduction intervention and conduct a pilot trial with journalism students.

Supervisors: Associate Professor Nicola Reavley, Professor Tony Jorm, Dr Amy Morgan & Dr Alexandra Wake

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