New tool tracks media coverage of mental health issues

Researchers at King’s College London have today launched a new online tool, which tracks how media coverage of selected mental health concerns changes over time.  

For the first time, the tool provides mental health professionals, service users, and the general public with the means to rapidly identify how mental health concerns are being covered by online news media, allowing them to recognise and counter stigma and misinformation.   

The site presents live graphics showing the number of stories appearing in online news media sources over the last two months relevant to 11 mental health concerns (dementia, self-harm, autism spectrum disorders, schizophrenia, attention deficit disorder, bipolar affective disorder, psychotic disorder, depressive disorder, Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder). Users can see at a glance other keywords associated with the specific news story, giving a quick indication of whether it might be something that is relevant to them or their patients.

The tool has been developed as part of PHEME, a major international research project to understand how facts, half-truths, and deception spread on the internet, and how to counter this with better quality information.  Coordinated by the University of Sheffield, PHEME brings together computer and web scientists, data visualisation experts, as well as news organisations, and mental health expertise from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College London.

According to Professor Robert Stewart at King’s College London, who is leading the mental health component of PHEME, “In order to identify and counter stigma and misinformation when it occurs in online news media, it needs to be rapidly identified, and this new tool allows us to easily and quickly monitor news coverage in key mental health areas.”  

Dr Anna Kolliakou, a PHEME researcher from King’s College London who helped to develop the tool adds, “Although existing tools allow users to search online news media for keywords and analyse trends, we believe this is the first freely accessible website to represent how live news coverage of mental health concerns changes over time.”

Visitors to the site who want to explore the information in more detail can visit the full visual analytics dashboard hosted by webLyzard technology, who developed the web intelligence platform behind the interactive site.  

Future research will use similar technology to investigate how mental health concerns are discussed on social media, and will also look at how trends in news and social media coverage may relate to similar occurrences in the clinical record.

The mental health component of the research is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre.  PHEME has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 611233.

The homepage for the pheme news tracker is at

Tags: Informatics - Clinical and population informatics -

By NIHR Maudsley BRC at 10 Aug 2016, 12:08 PM

Back to Blog List