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Mental health and the media: from illness to wellbeing

Atanasova, D.; Koteyko, D.; Brown, N.; Crawford, P.

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D. Atanasova

D. Koteyko

N. Brown

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Professor of Health Humanities


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.


Atanasova, D., Koteyko, D., Brown, N., & Crawford, P. (2019). Mental health and the media: from illness to wellbeing. Sociology Compass, 13(5), Article e12678.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 25, 2019
Online Publication Date Mar 20, 2019
Publication Date 2019-05
Deposit Date Feb 27, 2019
Publicly Available Date Mar 21, 2021
Journal Sociology Compass
Electronic ISSN 1751-9020
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 13
Issue 5
Article Number e12678
Keywords Literature review; Media; Mental health; Recovery; Mental illness; Mental wellbeing
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Atanasova, D, Koteyko, N, Brown, B, Crawford, P. Mental health and the media: From illness to wellbeing. Sociology Compass. 2019;e12678, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.
Contract Date Feb 27, 2019


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