- Michael Birch, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, USA
The problem of media representations about mental health is now a global issue with health agencies expressing concern about produced stigma and its outcomes, specifically social exclusion. In many countries, the statistic of one in four people experiencing a mental health condition prevails, making it essential that more is known about how to improve media portrayals. With a globally projected increase in mental health conditions Mediating Mental Health offers a detailed critical analysis of media representations in two phases looking closely at genre form.
The book looks across fictional and factual genres in film, television and radio examining media constructions of mental health identity. It also questions the opinions of journalists, mental healthcare professionals and people with conditions with regard to mediated mental health meanings. Finally, as a result of a production project, people with conditions develop new images making critical contrasts with dominant media portrayals. Thus, useful and practical recommendations for developing media practice ensue.
As such, this book will appeal to mental health professionals, people with conditions, journalists, sociologists, students and scholars of media and cultural studies, practitioners in applied theatre, and anyone interested in media representations of social groups.
Contents: Foreword; Preface; A note about language and mental health; Introduction; Mediating mental health; Critical contexts; Historical contexts for popular meanings of 'madness'. An outline of the case studies; Phase one genre studies 1: film; Phase one genre studies 2: news and documentary; Phase one genre studies 3: drama; Phase two, part 1: the community project: reception study; Phase two, part 2: the community project: production study: exploring change: approach, alternative images and practices; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.
About the Author: Michael Birch lectures in the Department of English and Communications at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, USA
Reviews: 'Mike Birch has accomplished one of the most qualitatively rigorous studies of media representations of mental health that has ever been attempted. It embraces the perspectives of all major stake-holders, and yields profound and practical insights into mediated constructions of stigma.'
Oliver Boyd-Barrett, Bowling Green State University, USA
'Michael Birch's compelling work questions the mental health of a society, rather than that of those it defines as unhealthy. He demonstrates that modes of representation of mental health in Britain in particular, offer insights into the conventions underlying cultural practices and institutions. Drawing upon examples of ethnographic experiments derived from applied television and theatre practices, Birch shows masterfully that it is within representations as locations of power that "disability" is imagined, enforced, and contested.'
Awam Amkpa, New York University, USA and author of Theatre and Postcolonial Desires
'Mike Birch offers an extensive, academically robust and thought provoking analysis of mental health mediation. Historically and contextually situated, it is an excellent critical inquiry into the nature of these powerful and often negative discursive practices. The text would be a valuable resource to many readers, particularly for those interested in mental health, media studies, discourse analysis and policy development.'
James Trueman, Anglia Ruskin University, UK
'… offer[s] some provocative thinking and creative research on the effects of media messages on individual identities and public understanding… it rewards persistence and an open mind with alternative ways of thinking, conducting research, and listening to the people most directly affected by media images… Birch literally puts the groups with mental health conditions on center stage, enabling them to re-examine the media samples and act out their own alternatives and commentaries. Their clever and often comedic dramatizations are laden with useful cues for telling truth and reducing stigma across media genres… Mediating Mental Health makes important ethical arguments… a useful resource for a graduate seminar on diversity, disability, or critical studies or even for further stigma research… Birch and his research participants have important things to say to media professionals and students who are trying to cover mental health issues ethically and effectively.'
Journal of Mass Media Ethics
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