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Mental Health and the Media: From Illness to Wellbeing

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

E-pub ahead of print
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Article numbere12678
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>20/03/2019
<mark>Journal</mark>Sociology Compass
Publication StatusE-pub ahead of print
Early online date20/03/19
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

The media are a main source of information about mental health for many people and an ever-growing body of literature is evaluating their coverage of the topic. To help keep track of such research, several comprehensive but now dated literature reviews have been published. We assess more recent studies (2007-2017) and suggest future directions by integrating (1) the ‘circuit of mass communication’ model from media and communication studies which posits that production, content and reception need to be analysed for an in-depth understanding of the media, (2) the holistic view of mental health as comprising both illness and wellbeing and (3) the critical psychiatry literature questioning the assumptions underlying psychiatric knowledge and practice. We find that recent studies have focused on content and ‘the illness side’ of mental health by examining the representation of particular mental disorders and events involving individuals with specific diagnoses. We identify as a promising development the growing interest in ‘the wellbeing side’ of mental health whereby authors have started to analyse recovery messages. We invite more production and reception research and more critical content studies which use diagnostic labels cautiously and analyse the representation of people with mental health problems as the victims of violence.