Mental health consequences of COVID-19 media coverage: the need for effective crisis communication practices

Su, Zhaohui and McDonnell, Dean and Wen, Jun and Kozak, Metin and Abbas, Jaffar and Šegalo, Sabina and Li, Xiaoshan and Ahmad, Junaid and Cheshmehzangi, Ali and Cai, Yuyang and Yang, Ling and Xiang, Yu-Tao (2021) Mental health consequences of COVID-19 media coverage: the need for effective crisis communication practices. Globalization and Health, 17 (1). ISSN 1744-8603

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Abstract

During global pandemics, such as coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), crisis communication is indispensable in dispelling fears, uncertainty, and unifying individuals worldwide in a collective fight against health threats. Inadequate crisis communication can bring dire personal and economic consequences. Mounting research shows that seemingly endless newsfeeds related to COVID-19 infection and death rates could considerably increase the risk of mental health problems. Unfortunately, media reports that include infodemics regarding the influence of COVID-19 on mental health may be a source of the adverse psychological effects on individuals. Owing partially to insufficient crisis communication practices, media and news organizations across the globe have played minimal roles in battling COVID-19 infodemics. Common refrains include raging QAnon conspiracies, a false and misleading “Chinese virus” narrative, and the use of disinfectants to “cure” COVID-19. With the potential to deteriorate mental health, infodemics fueled by a kaleidoscopic range of misinformation can be dangerous. Unfortunately, there is a shortage of research on how to improve crisis communication across media and news organization channels. This paper identifies ways that legacy media reports on COVID-19 and how social media-based infodemics can result in mental health concerns. This paper discusses possible crisis communication solutions that media and news organizations can adopt to mitigate the negative influences of COVID-19 related news on mental health. Emphasizing the need for global media entities to forge a fact-based, person-centered, and collaborative response to COVID-19 reporting, this paper encourages media resources to focus on the core issue of how to slow or stop COVID-19 transmission effectively.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: COVID-19; Coronavirus; Mental health; Crisis communication; Infodemic; Misinformation;Disinformation
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham Ningbo China > Faculty of Science and Engineering > Department of Architecture and Built Environment
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12992-020-00654-4
Depositing User: Yu, Tiffany
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2021 00:48
Last Modified: 15 Jan 2021 00:48
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/64310

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