Digital Ecologies of Youth Mental Health: Apps, Therapeutic Publics and Pedagogy as Affective Arrangements

Simone Fullagar, Emma Rich, Jessica Francombe-Webb, Antonio Maturo

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In this paper, we offer a new conceptual approach to analyzing the interrelations between formal and informal pedagogical sites for learning about youth mental (ill) health with a specific focus on digital health technologies. Our approach builds on an understanding of public pedagogy to examine the pedagogical modes of address (Ellsworth 1997) that are (i) produced through ‘expert’ discourses of mental health literacy for young people; and (ii) include digital practices created by young people as they seek to publicly address mental ill health through social media platforms. We trace the pedagogic modes of address that are evident in examples of digital mental health practices and the creation of what we call therapeutic publics. Through an analysis of mental health apps, we examine how these modes of address are implicated in the affective process of learning about mental (ill) health, and the affective arrangements through which embodied distress is rendered culturally intelligible. In doing so, we situate the use of individual mental health apps within a broader digital ecology that is mediated by therapeutic expertise and offer original contributions to the theorization of public pedagogy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalSocial Sciences
Issue number135
Publication statusPublished - 6 Nov 2017


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