Heavy criticism has fallen on pharmaceutical companies and some psychiatric professionals in recent years as rates of prescribing potentially unnecessary medications rise. Sometimes, proposes a study recently published in the Journal of Mental Health, psychiatric medications can have an additional negative impact on professionals and their clients; because of their content and presentation, the study notes, they may actually perpetuate stigma associated with psychological concerns and treatment.
The study was produced by an examination and comparison of advertisements in two major medical journals, one of which was geared specifically towards the psychiatric community. The advertisements were analyzed as to the way in which they represented clients, and the words that were used to describe and pitch the product. After performing these analyses for a year, the researcher found that clients represented in non-psychiatric medication advertisements were depicted as being happy and active, whereas those in the ads displayed in the psychiatric journal tended to be inactive and troubled. The researcher also found that while the control advertisements focused on words describing the product, the advertisements in the study group included less words overall and may not have been as objective.
Such discrepancies, the study suggests, may be responsible for influencing professional perspectives on clients themselves, and may also strengthen pathologizing behaviors among some practitioners. The researcher notes that asking potential clients and society at large to abandon stigma surrounding mental health may be impractical if the issue is still prevalent among professionals themselves. Though many may prefer to see advertisements for psychiatric medications pulled from many publications to discourage over-prescription, others may lend their support to the study’s findings to concentrate on ensuring that such advertisements do not negatively influence community perspective.
© Copyright 2010 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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