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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 25  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 128-132

COVID-19 and mental health through the eyes of Indian newspapers

1 Department of Psychiatry, Punjab Institute of Medical Sciences, Jalandhar, Punjab, India
2 Doaba Hospital, Jalandhar, Punjab, India

Correspondence Address:
Gulbahar Singh Sidhu
Doaba Hospital, Lajpat Nagar, Jalandhar, Punjab
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jmhhb.jmhhb_63_20

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Context: COVID-19 poses challenges to both physical and mental health of the patients, their loved ones, the health-care providers, and the people at large. It has been pointed out that the prime reason behind this is the bombardment of information ranging from accurate to exaggerated to grossly incorrect by the media. Aims: We aimed to assess the nature and extent of the coverage pertaining to mental health and COVID 19 in the print media. Subjects and Methods: In our prospective study, all print items related to the mental health aspects of COVID-19 published in a national daily, The Hindu and a regional daily, The Tribune were included. Results: A low percentage of the total print items related to COVID-19 pertained to the mental health aspects in both newspapers. Most of the print items appeared on the inner pages. Anxiety was the most common mental health problem mentioned, followed by depression and fear for one's own safety. Yoga, meditation, other forms of physical exercise, contacting helplines, and talking to people were the most commonly suggested ways to manage mental health problems. The opinion of a mental health professional was sought in only 13.33% of the print items in The Tribune, whereas the corresponding figure for The Hindu was 65%. Conclusions: We found that the coverage was less extensive as compared to the reported prevalence of mental health problems associated with COVID-19. Our findings underscore the need for more exhaustive and widespread reporting of mental health problems associated with the pandemic.

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