Chapter 15

Retooling for Wellbeing

Media and the Public's Mental Health

Marten W. deVries

Maastricht University, The Netherlands


The global pervasiveness and wide reach of popular media are able to address a wide range of topics as well as target and reach a broad audience. Through media, positive psychology content may be brought to a population's attention quickly, directly, and conveniently, for the improvement of people's wellbeing. Mass media's impact on attitudes towards mental health has received research attention, but the use of media to improve the wellbeing of a population has been less actively pursued and investigated. Yet, as market analysts have shown, the target for such information is vast and diverse, encompassing an enormous global market for lifestyle information. TV, radio, the Internet, and new social media platforms may be specifically designed to engage populations and promote mental health and wellbeing.

Media is often viewed as a double-edged sword, cutting both ways. For all its potential positive power, it also has an oft-criticized, social “downside,” ranging from state-deployed propaganda to the commercial depicting of violence, abuse, unhealthy lifestyles, and profane language. But, to a far larger extent, it has been a useful tool that today has entered into almost every aspect of daily life, improving communication and information exchange, increasing awareness of key social issues, enabling social change as well as entertaining large ...

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