Marketing mental health: Critical reflections on literacy, branding and anti-stigma campaigns

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This chapter discusses some ideas that inform a critical approach to studying the marketing and communication of mental health issues that avoids being complicit in the biomedicalization of communication and (mental) health research. I argue that a critical approach does not assume and accept unquestioned the ‘truth’ of ‘mental illness’ or ‘mental disorder’ as constructed in the discourse of psychiatry and propagated across a range of institutions and media platforms. Instead, a critical perspective recognizes the plurality of views and interests in the mental health field and directs attention to how mental health campaigns project assumptions and expectations about who are the rightful and authoritative producers of mental health knowledge, the subject positions they invite people to inhabit, the language and images they use, the calls to action and pedagogies they promote and the ideas and voices they privilege, obscure, suppress or silence. The chapter draws upon scholarship from Mad Studies, cultural studies of psychiatry, and critical theorizations of health communication to foreground concepts such as psychiatrization, benevolent othering and biomediatization and to problematize mental health literacy, branding and anti-stigma campaigns.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCommunication and Health
Subtitle of host publicationMedia, Marketing and Risk
EditorsCharlene Elliot, Josh Greenberg
Place of PublicationSingapore
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9789811642906
ISBN (Print)9789811642890
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022


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