Research Roundup: Mental Health

mental health research

by: Nicola Brown, MPC2014

Catch up on some of the latest research from MPC students on mental health stigma, conversation and communication:

Mental Health Stigma On Campus: The Promotion Of Mental Wellbeing To Ryerson Students

Author: Andreea Mihai

This MRP looks at the communication used in mental health campaigns for a post-secondary student audience, focusing on how language use and visual design choices impact the stigma associated with mental health. This MRP focuses specifically on the communications seen on Ryerson University’s campus in the 2016 – 2017 academic school year. A video available on Ryerson’s YouTube channel and a sample of posters available throughout campus were analyzed for language and visual design choices to determine how they fit within stigma management communication strategies and how those choices had the potential to influence perceived stigma in viewers.

Goffman’s (1963) theory on stigma and an individual’s identity was used to analyze the content of the video and posters. Goffman’s theory outlines the various stages of stigma that an individual experiences, and the impact of each stage on how that individual chooses to interact with others. Miesenbach’s (2010) model for stigma management communication, along with information from an expert interview with a front-line worker was also used to analyze content in the video and posters. By understanding the communications around mental health through the lens of Goffman (1963) and Miesenbach (2010), it will be possible to understand how the communications are increasing or reducing the stigma around mental health.

The analysis of the rhetoric in the messages gives a hint as to how our culture reflects stigma in the messages created, and how this rhetoric may affect students in a culture. This research analyzes Ryerson’s mental well-being campaign for the purpose of identifying a list of best practices for communicating about mental health. The findings show that one of the campaigns accomplishes this better than the other. Effective mental well-being campaigns are those that incorporate elements that normalize discussion of mental health topics, offer strategies for dealing with mental health concerns and overall, promote a culture that prioritizes mental well-being.

Read more about Andreea’s research here.

Creating Conversation: How Bell Let’s Talk Produces Engaging Mental Health Content On Twitter

Author: Bethany Rubin

This pilot study explores how Bell Let’s Talk, a mental health initiative to foster positive conversation about mental health in Canada, uses Twitter to disseminate mental health messages with the intention of increasing awareness and reducing stigma.

A content analysis was conducted of 89 tweets posted by the official Bell Let’s Talk Twitter account, @Bell_LetsTalk between December 1, 2016 and January 31, 2017 to establish the overall engagement of content, examine which content receives the highest engagement and establish which message function creates most conversation.

The results suggest Bell Let’s Talk produces medium engagement content. The majority of tweets feature a non-celebrity influencer (n=37) or non-influencer (n=37). However, celebrity content had the highest level of engagement (mdn=1102). Of the communication features used, links were the most frequently utilized (n=52). Public-centric topics (n=45) were the most common type of tweet, yet organizational-centric action tweets received the highest level of engagement (mdn=1382).

The results of this pilot study suggest Bell Let’s Talk produces content of medium engagement. They also indicate there is potential for further research to build upon and improve health professionals’ knowledge regarding successful content about mental health on Twitter.

Read more about Bethany’s research here.

Communicating Mental Health Online: A Comparative Multimodal Analysis Of The Centre For Addiction And Mental Health And Children’s Mental Health Ontario

Author: Alicia Cheung

Online mental health communication is a niche area of study in the professional communication field that has been studied previously by several researchers who have applied a social semiotics and critical discourse analysis approach.

Since mental health has become a critical public health issue worldwide, this major research paper (MRP) presents a comparative analysis of two mental health organizations’ websites, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and the Children’s Mental Health Ontario. This paper explores how both organizations communicate mental health online.

To address the proposed questions of this research study, a multimodal analysis of text and images is conducted for each organization’s website. The data collected from this study identifies key themes that uncover how mental health is communicated on both organizations’ websites. A visual social semiotic analysis is applied to contribute to the understanding of the shifting mental health model and the positive psychology approach to mental health. Furthermore, this research study combines linguistic tools to study the meanings of text and images at a micro-semiotic level in order to analyze the social power used within the texts of both websites.

Read more about Alicia’s research here.