Reconstructing the Mental Health Narrative: Bio-cultural Grammar, Symbolic Text Translation and the Coalescence of Meanings

By Steve Kusan.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper conceptualizes mental health narratives as coherent aggregates of meanings that act as guideposts for negotiating mental health. Central to the construct are two ontogenic concerns whose prior treatment in the literature has not sufficiently recognized the symbiotic relationship between them or their combined influence on mental health—meaning-making and mental health literacy. The literatures pertaining to these concerns have remained uncoupled primarily due to the prevailing illness-oriented definition of mental health literacy which is problematically narrow, both in terms of its lineal conformity to the orthodox view of mental illness and its complete lack of accounting for the literacies employed in promotion of mental health. Mental health literacy is redefined as the self-generated and acquired knowledge with which people negotiate their mental health.

Keywords: Mental Health Literacy, Meaning-making, Mental Health Narrative

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp.441-462. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 851.187KB).

Dr. Steve Kusan

PhD Student, Interdisciplinary School of Rural and Northern Health, Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada

Steve Kusan is a PhD Candidate in the Interdisciplinary School of Rural and Northern Health at Laurentian University, Canada. He has worked in the public sector in the fields of mental health, child protection and education, and in private practice as a psychotherapist, mediator, trainer and consultant. He has taught in several departments at Laurentian University as a sessional instructor including the Department of Law and Justice, School of Social Work, and Centre of Excellence. He is a past president of the Ontario Association for Family Mediation and served on the board of Family Mediation Canada. His current research interests relate to mental health literacy, in particular, lay strategies for maintaining and promoting mental health.


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