The media have a role to play in communicating development messages. This study sought to establish the extent to which the media are working to set public agenda for the mental health sector so that it can mobilise both the government and the governed towards achieving a healthy state. The research methodology used was content analysis and the purposive sampling technique was adopted. The punch and the nations newspaper were chosen based on AMPS 2010 newspaper readership data. This research covered a 24-month time period. A total of 554 health reports were found and analysed on the selected mental health issues. The single disease that garnered the most media attention was mental health, and the most reported genre was straight news story. The newspapers did not give prominence to bipolar disorder. In light of the findings, this study recommends that the newspapers should endeavour to give more prominence to mental health issues.
1.1 Background of the Study
One of the key aspects of the development potential of the mass media is health communication. Ochonogor (2009) suggests that “development media messages, if structured and sustained over a long period of time will ensure a smooth transition of mass media agenda to public agenda.” The media are significant sources of health-related information and can shape the way we think about and discuss health. According to the Health Reform Foundation of Nigeria (HERFON) in the Nigerian Health Review (2006) “recent assessment of the health of the Nigerian population indicates that the health situation in Nigeria and of Nigerians is dismal and efforts to change the situation over the years have been insignificant.” Some mental health issues in Nigeria are as follows: Anger, Anxiety and panic attacks, Bipolar disorder, Depression, Body dysmorphic disorder among others. HERFON in the Nigerian Health Review (2006) assert that “the coverage of the national health system is limited and health education and enlightenment is weak, partly due to high level illiteracy
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