Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


School of Communication

First Advisor

Joseph Zompetti


In 2017, SAMHSA reported that nearly 20% of the American population have been diagnosed with a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder. College aged students are within the age group most likely to be diagnosed with a mental illness (SAMHSA, 2017), making mental health services and promotions on college campuses a necessity. Because of the current mental health crisis affecting students, this research aimed to investigate the mental health messages higher education institutions produce for their students. Using close textual analysis, mental health materials in the form of flyers, social media posts, websites, and syllabi from 11 universities and colleges were examined to uncover rhetorical themes found in university messaging. The following themes were discovered during analysis: universities push self-help over institutional responsibility, messages tend to disregard underprivileged populations, university counseling services are limited, and mental illness is downplayed or ignored. Guided by concepts from Gramsci and Foucault, it was discovered that university mental health messages enact social control over students with the goal of increasing university image and profit. More extensive research from diverse institutions is recommended to better understand university messaging about mental health. KEYWORDS: rhetoric, mental health, mental illness, higher education, university messaging, university mental health services


Imported from Thompson_ilstu_0092N_12004.pdf


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