A rhetorical study of mediatized debates on mental health: towards a critical mental health literacy.

01 January 2023 → 31 December 2026
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Social sciences
    • Clinical and counseling psychology not elsewhere classified
    • Education, culture and society not elsewhere classified
    • Media discourse reception
Mental health public debate rhetoric (discourse)
Project description

Mental health problems are a worldwide concern and also highly prevalent in Flanders. In addition to a high-performance mental health care, this requires appropriate help-seeking behaviour by the general public which includes recognition, management and prevention of mental health problems as well as reducing stigma towards mental health patients. Because public understandings of mental health influence whether or not and in what ways people take action, a profound understanding of the public debate about mental health is required. The images, stories and discourses about mental health that are circulated in different types of media are highly influential in shaping public understandings of mental health. Therefore, the general aim of this project is to conduct a rhetorical analysis of mediatized debates about mental health and to explore how the rhetorical framing of mental health in these debates is related to help-seeking and stigma. The research project has 3 objectives: (1) to study the rhetorical framing of mental health (problems) in traditional media, (2) to study the rhetorical framing of mental health (problems) in digital and social media, and (3) to explore how mental health service users, professionals and researchers interpret and negotiate these public understandings about mental health. As such, the aim is to further conceptualize how to engage with public debates on mental health from a critical mental health literacy perspective.