Media Coverage Of Depression In Nigeria

Project and Seminar Material for Mass Communication

Media Coverage Of Depression In Nigeria


Abstract


This study focused on the media coverage of depression in Nigeria, Students of university Of Maiduguri, Borno state as case study. The study is was specifically focused on finding out readers’ perception of the frequency given to depression stories in Nigerian media; finding out readers’ perception of the prominence given to depression stories and ascertaining readers’ perception of the depth of coverage on depression stories..

The study adopted the survey research design and randomly enrolled participants in the study. A total of 100 responses were validated from the enrolled participants where all respondent are Students of university Of Maiduguri, Borno state. Finding showed that Nigerian media did not create enough awareness on depression were eight, while only two respondents said the Nigerian media did enough on depression coverage.

It is therefore concluded that the Nigerian media have not adequately communicated depression issues as perceived by Students of university Of Maiduguri, Borno state.


Table of Content


Chapter One:

Introduction

  • 1.1 Background of the study
  • 1.2 Statement of the problem
  • 1.3 Objective of the study
  • 1.4 Research question
  • 1.5 Significance of the study
  • 1.6 Scope of the study
  • 1.7 Limitation of the study
  • 1.8 Definition of terms

Chapter Two:

Review of Literature

  • 2.1 Conceptual Framework
  • 2.2 Theoretical Framework
  • 2.3 Empirical Review

Chapter Three:

Research Methodology

  • 3.1 Research Design
  • 3.2 Population of the study
  • 3.3 Sample size determination
  • 3.4 Sample size selection technique and procedure
  • 3.5 Research Instrument and Administration
  • 3.6 Method of data collection
  • 3.7 Method of data analysis
  • 3.8 Validity and Reliability of the study

Chapter Four:

Data Presentation and Analysis

  • 4.1 Data Presentation
  • 4.2 Answering Research Questions

Chapter Five:

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

  • 5.1 Summary
  • 5.2 Conclusion
  • 5.3 Recommendation
  • References
  • Appendix

Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background to the Study

Mental health problems are global worries that affect all and sundry irrespective of age, race, sex, and status. One-in-seven people around the world have one or more types of mental health problems (Ritchie, 2018). In Nigeria, according to a mental health expert, Dr. Jibril Abdulmalik, as cited in Oguntola (2020) report in the Tribune, one in every four people (about 50 million) in the country stands the risks of developing one or more types of mental health problems during their lifetime. These problems amount for 16% of the burden of disease and injury in people aged 10 – 19 years globally (World Health Organization, 2019) and they have become one of the major public health problems in contemporary time that are associated with physical, social, emotional, and economic consequences (WHO, 2008).

Mental health crises with their attendant consequences such as depression are global issues but adversely affecting developing countries such as Nigeria. According to WHO (2019), about 79% of global depressions occur in low-and-middle-income countries, of which Nigeria is one. Sadly, Nigeria is a breeding ground for mental health problems and a holistic view of the state of the nation confirms this disturbing reality. For instance, Nigeria is the leading poverty capital in the world (Adebayo, 2018); the third most terrorised nation (Institute for Economics & Peace, 2019); the fifth-highest number of new conflict-related internally displaced people (Internally Displacement Monitoring Centre, 2020); and a nation where one in every five of the world’s out-of-school children (about 10.5 million between the ages of 5 to 14) reside (UNICEF, 2019).

Similarly, unemployment plus underemployment in the country, as at the second quarter of 2020 stood at 55.7% (Oyekanmi, 2020); violent conflict and other forms of criminalities such as banditry, kidnapping, and cultism continued to rear their ugly heads across the country; police brutality and other forms of human rights abuses, hike in the prices of foodstuff, fuel and electricity tariff (Opejobi, 2020), including the negative impact of COVID-19 which has brought untold hardship to the citizens, have all compounded the mental health problems in the nation. These worrisome issues have triggered overwhelming mental health conditions and for some people, “the pain of living is too intolerable to endure, and the idea of depression is not an existential, philosophical question or an academic exercise. For these people, depression is the only answer” (Olson, n.d., para. 4).

Mental health problems also referred to as mental disorder; an unstable emotional, psychological and social state of being that negatively affects how one thinks, feels, and acts manifest themselves in different forms such as anxiety disorders, depression, eating disorder, personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, psychosis, substance abuse, among others. From the list of mental health problems affecting humanity, depression and substance abuse were found to be the most notable types and the major (90%) cause of death by depression globally (Gould, Jamieson, and Romier, 2003; WHO, 2016).

Depression is a global trend and Nigeria contributes annually to the global statistics. The term ‘depression’ is the premeditated act of inflicting self-harm leading to death. Disturbingly, the number of people who are resorting to this gory act globally including in Nigeria has been on the rise. In 2016, nearly a million people died by depression; a mortality rate of 16 people per 100, 000, or one suicidal death every 40 seconds (WHO, 2016). In Nigeria, it was reported in the mass media that 264 depression deaths were recorded within four years, excluding those not covered (Daily Trust, 2020). Within the first and second quarters of 2019 alone, 42 cases were recorded; students topping the list with 11 persons (Mac-Leva, Ibrahim & Usman, 2019). The situation is so worrisome that in 2016, Nigeria was ranked 15th in the world through death by depression (African Check, 2019). This is a menace that is silently racking havoc in the country and silently taking away the lives of Nigerians unnoticed, particularly the youths (Eno, 2019).

The rising cases of depression in the country calls for robust mass media reportage on the menace; providing enlightenment on the problem and offering preventive measures through sensitive reporting, including helping the public to make sense of the issues. This is imperative because the mass media are saddled with the responsibility of setting-agenda on national issues and championing issues that affect the people, of which depression is among. But to what extent are they doing these? What is the prominence given to problems of depression in the Nigerian media? The mass media’s “depictions of mental health and depression are an important element in shaping how the public understands the issues and how relevant agencies devise strategies to advocate and reduce stigma for people with mental health difficulties” (O’ Brien, 2020, p. 8). Although there are different mental health issues in the society, this study is, however, restricted to only depression reportage in Nigerian media and seeks the perception of readers of media in Jos North and Jos South Local Government Areas of Plateau State, Nigeria on media’ role in setting agenda on depression.


1.2 Statement of Problem

There are rising cases of depression in Nigeria, caused by several overlapping factors. This menace is quietly terminating the citizens’ acquaintance with their future and leaving family and friends in a pitiable state. Several studies have been conducted on depression from different disciplines (Abdulai, 2020; Alabi, Alabi, Ayinde, & Abdulmalik, 2014; Muhammed, 2020). While these studies have all contributed to the existing body of literature, there is, however, a dearth of literature on readers’ perception of media reportage of depression in Nigeria. To bridge this gap and to provide a new body of knowledge on depression, this study therefore, seeks to investigate the perception of Nigerian media readers on media agenda-setting function of depression in Nigeria, as evident in their coverage.


1.3 Research Objectives

The broad objective of the study was to seek media coverage of depression in Nigeria, while the following are the specific objectives:

  1. To find out readers’ perception of the frequency given to depression stories in Nigerian media.
  2. To find out readers’ perception of the prominence given to depression stories.
  3. To ascertain readers’ perception of the depth of coverage on depression stories.

1.4 Research Questions

  1. Do media houses cover depression issues?
  2. What are their perceptions of the prominence given to depression stories?
  3. What is the effect of media coverage of depression issues?

1.5 Significance of the Study

The study specifically focused on the undergraduates students in university of maiduguri and not any other university because of the prevalence of mental health problems among the students population, which are not recognized. Anecdotal reports from media, families, religious institutions and civil society suggest the prevalence of mental health problems, but there is lack of adequate data on mental health problems, level of knowledge, attitudes and practices among the undergraduate students through empirical research to allow for comprehensive intervention to mitigate the issues.

Furthermore, there is undocumented high level of mental health illiteracy and lack of awareness concerning mental health issues among the students in which they prefer traditional medication as opposed to the hospital when treating mental disorders. This has led to the loss of many lives of the patients, escalation of the symptoms while others are taken to the hospital when it is already too late, being left to loiter in the world without anyone to take care of them or being chained in their homes to prevent harm and attacks.

Another factor that makes these patients suffer most is because most of the members of the community believe that these are conditions caused by demons and in some instances subjects the patients to very hostile situations such as being caged or being caged together with a hyena that is believed to bite the patients and take the demons out.

Finally, this study will aid the policymakers to formulate better responsive policies that will enable adequate budget allocation, proper staffing and procurement of medical equipment, medical supplies, and school community sensitisation . For the academicians, this study highlights on the mental health epidemic among the Unimaid, emphasizing on the data (knowledge, attitudes and practices for caregivers, traditional healers and health service providers) for further studies in this area.


1.6 Scope of the Study

The scope of this study is limited to present the Media Coverage Of Depression In Nigeria among undergraduates students in university of maiduguri, with a specific focus on students mental health in University of Maiduguri. The study specifically limited with to this University in Borno state.


1.7 Limitation of the Study

This research work is specifically on the prevalence of mental health issues among undergraduates students in university of maiduguri. In the limitation on research work of this magnitude or nature can be carried out without limitation. Hence, during the course, certain constraints were encountered.

Cost:

The cost of thorough research is not what can be afforded by a student. The prices of materials needed for this work has gone up and transport fee has also gone up.

Time:

The time was one of the limitations in the process of carrying out this research work.

Scarcity of Literature:

The research encountered some problems in collection of literature especially on the bank History and operations. This are hindered the smooth running of this work.


1.8 Definition of Terms

Mental Health:

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being.

Depression:

A mental health disorder characterised by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment in daily.

Stress:

Stress is a feeling of emotional or physical tension.


Chapter Five


Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations:

5.1 Introduction

This chapter summarizes the findings on the media coverage of depression in Nigeria, Students of university Of Maiduguri, Borno state as case study. The chapter consists of summary of the study, conclusions, and recommendations.


5.2 Summary of the Study

In this study, our focus was on the media coverage of depression in Nigeria, Students of university Of Maiduguri, Borno state as case study. The study is was specifically focused on finding out readers’ perception of the frequency given to depression stories in Nigerian media; finding out readers’ perception of the prominence given to depression stories and ascertaining readers’ perception of the depth of coverage on depression stories..

The study adopted the survey research design and randomly enrolled participants in the study. A total of 100 responses were validated from the enrolled participants where all respondent are Students of university Of Maiduguri, Borno state.


5.3 Conclusions

With respect to the analysis and the findings of this study, the following conclusions emerged;

One of the greatest challenges facing Nigeria media is how to effectively cover depression issues. The media have an important role in disseminating information on depression. This is why this study attempted to answer a very pertinent question on what is the performance of the Nigerian media in communicating depression. The assessment of the Nigerian media on agenda setting regarding depression showed negative development based on findings of the study. Out of the ten respondents, those who said the Nigerian media did not create enough awareness on depression were eight, while only two respondents said the Nigerian media did enough on depression coverage.

It is therefore concluded that the Nigerian media have not adequately communicated depression issues as perceived by Students of university Of Maiduguri, Borno state.


5.4 Recommendation

Based on the findings where the majority (7 out of 9) of the respondents accused the newspapers of inadequate coverage of suicide, the research puts forward the following as recommendations:

  1. Newspapers should as a matter of urgency, step up their agenda-setting function on suicide coverage. While the newspapers are encouraged to increase reports on suicide, they should do so using best practices, this is because the media coverage of suicide if not properly done can influence behaviours and encourage more people to commit suicide. This means that stories on suicide should not be explicit by describing the suicide methods, using graphic headlines, or images and being sensationalistic.
  2. The media should carry stories of hope, and recovery information on how to overcome suicidal thinking and increase coping skills.
  3. Journalists should be periodically exposed to training and re-training on how best to report suicide issues.

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