Lay theories and criticisms of mental health news: elaborating the concept of biocommunicability

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    This article examines how mental health service users/consumers, advocates, professionals and researchers interpret and theorise the impacts of mental health news. It focuses on the following themes: Creating fears about mental illness by focusing on criminal and violent acts; Reinforcing power imbalances by privileging biomedical issues and sources; and Sanitising mental health issues through the selective use of personal narratives. The study draws upon the concept of biocommunicability, which casts light on the performative power of health news in reinforcing ideas and expectations about the appropriate role for different actors to adopt in relation to health knowledge. Previous research on health news has identified biomedical authority, patient-consumer and public sphere as three predominant models of biocommunicability and this article examines how these are bound up with criticisms of mental health news. The findings are related to the ‘mediatisation of psychiatric culture’ as one of extremes and perspectives from Mad Studies.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1327-1348
    Number of pages22
    JournalDisability and Society
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


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