Screen Stigma: Looking at mental illness in the news Lesson Plan

About the author: Matthew Johnson, Director of Education, MediaSmarts

Level: Grade 9 to 10

Duration: 1 to 1 ½ hours, plus time for the assessment/evaluation 

This lesson was made possible with funding from Bell.

Reading Media icon in the digital media literacy framework.Media Representation icon from the digital media literacy framework.Media Health icon from the digital media literacy framework.Community Engagement icon from the digital media literacy framework.

This lesson is part of USE, UNDERSTAND & ENGAGE: A Digital Media Literacy Framework for Canadian Schools.


In this lesson, students learn about the ways in which news coverage of an event or issue can be biased, focusing on the aspects of the medium and industry that can lead to bias. They read an article that examines the coverage of mental illness in the news and then participate in an interactive activity that lets them compose their own article. Finally, students find and analyze a recent news story on a mental health topic and write a letter either praising or critiquing it.

Learning Outcomes 

Students will:

  • Learn about bias in news coverage
  • Learn how biased news coverage affects our views on mental illness and contributes to stigma
  • Critically evaluate a media text
  • Create and receive feedback on a media text
  • Write a critical text

This lesson and all associated documents (handouts, overheads, backgrounders) are available in an easy-print, pdf kit version.