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Representations of mental health and arts participation in the national and local British press, 2007-2015

Atanasova, D.; Koteyko, Nelya; Brown, B.; Crawford, Paul


D. Atanasova

Nelya Koteyko

B. Brown

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Professor of Health Humanities


We analysed news articles published in national and local British newspapers between 2007 and 2015 to understand 1) how mental health and arts participation were framed and 2) how the relationships between participants in arts initiatives were conceptualised. Using corpus-assisted qualitative frame analysis, we identified frames of recovery, stigma and economy. The recovery frame, which emphasised that mental illness can be treated similarly to physical illness, positioned arts participation as a form of therapy that can complement or substitute medication. The stigma frame presented arts participation as a mechanism for challenging social conceptions that mentally ill individuals are incapable of productive work. The economy frame discussed the economic burden of mentally ill individuals and portrayed arts participation as facilitating their return to employment. Using thematic analysis, which paid attention to the representation of social actors, we found that service users were identified as the prime beneficiaries of arts initiatives and arts participation was conceptualised as a way to bring people with mental health issues together. We discuss these findings against existing research on media representations of mental health and the concept of ‘mutual recovery’ and suggest what wider concurrent developments in the areas of mental health and the media may account for the uncovered frames and themes.


Atanasova, D., Koteyko, N., Brown, B., & Crawford, P. (2019). Representations of mental health and arts participation in the national and local British press, 2007-2015. Health, 23(1), 3-20.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 26, 2017
Online Publication Date May 18, 2017
Publication Date Jan 1, 2019
Deposit Date Feb 28, 2017
Publicly Available Date May 18, 2017
Journal Health
Print ISSN 1949-4998
Electronic ISSN 1461-7196
Publisher Scientific Research Publishing
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 23
Issue 1
Pages 3-20
Keywords mental health; recovery; stigma; framing; arts
Public URL
Publisher URL


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