Title

Looking Healthy: Visualizing Mental Health and Illness Online

Publication Date

11-1-2012

Document Type

Article

Abstract

Through a historical case study of the mental health community website HealthyPlace.com, the author applies social semiotics and critical discourse analysis to interrogate the visual discourse surrounding mental health online. Web design transformations over the course of a decade demonstrate how visual imagery conveys a shift from a biomedical discourse focused on illness to a social-therapeutic discourse centered on health and wellness. Ultimately, the author argues that the utilization of faces in stock photography, stylized images, and social media platforms on HealthyPlace reflects a growing trend in virtual visual synthetic personalization on the internet to market mental health disorders as a concern for the everyday person while selling the promise of wellness through online participation. This article explores the visual language of mental health and wellness online to expanding on research in the field of visual communication, health communication, and new media studies.

Publication Title

Visual Communication

Volume

11

Issue

4

First Page

395

Last Page

420

DOI

10.1177/1470357212453978

Version

pre-print, post-print

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