Framställandet av psykisk ohälsa hos ungdomar - En diskursanalys av svensk press
Sammanfattning: The purpose of this research is to explore representations of youth mental illness by analysing articles in Swedish newspapers. Mass media has a central role in depicting social problems and shaping public discourse on health. It affects the way we understand and manage our social reality. The theoretical framework used for approaching the purpose of this study and analysing the material involves a combination of a social constructionist perspective, critical discourse analysis and concepts regarding the construction of social problems and individualisation in (late) modern society. The material is based on 51 articles from four large Swedish news papers. Four themes appeared as the results were analysed: ”An epidemic”; ”A narrow cultural frame”; ”A health discourse” and ”A harsh reality”. The results show that social problems are constructed mainly through the views of scientists and professionals and through references to large studies and established institutions and organisations. There is great variation in how mental illness is represented, what causes and what solutions are suggested. Whether it is an ”epidemic”, with uncertain causes, or a ”normal” reaction to ”normal” feelings which are sometimes exaggerated and sometimes enhanced by a ”narrow cultural frame”. There is a division between youth with ”real” issues with mental illness and ones with less serious problems who do not need to seek professional help. This creates an illusion of the two groups being in opposition to one-another. Youth mental illness is also portrayed through different forms of addiction, such as drug addiction and “social media addiction”. These discourses tend use dichotomies (”good”/”bad”), reproduce reductionistic views by suggesting solutions including stricter regulations and subjecting them to moral values. Health and the lack of exercise, along with the over-use of social media, is presented as a broad issue but the solutions are individualised. My hope is that the results of this study to rise critical language awareness by shedding light on the social structures behind discourses and representations in the media and use this as a tool for affected individuals and professionals to help counteract feelings of hopelessness and powerlessness.
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