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Re-envisioning Health

What does it mean to be healthy? Fifty years ago, health was a measure of physical illness or serious mental health conditions. Today, it takes a lot more to be healthy – having good friendships, feeling that one’s emotions are being recognized (and being able to recognize the emotions of others), creating a daily space for calm while maintaining productivity, working up the motivation to work out (and then maybe actually working out), graphing nutrition stats while being able to talk openly about one’s mental health, and perhaps even wearing the right lipstick.

This project analyzes what is at stake in changing understandings of health through an examination of how young people, who are often at the vanguard of new trends in mental health, physical fitness, and digital health technologies, enact what it means to be well in the 21 st century. Drawing from interviews with more than 200 young people, ages 14–24, in Aotearoa/New Zealand, I examine how young people use digital technologies to embrace and actively promote a radically expansive new conceptualization of health, both on- and offline, so much so that for some young people restocking their “emotional toolkit” becomes as much a part of their daily health routine as brushing their teeth.


2022. “Competing Responsibilities and the Ethics of Care in Young People’s Engagements with Digital Mental Health.” The Palgrave Handbook of the Anthropology of Technology. Ed. Maja Hojer Bruun, Ayo Wahlberg, Rachel Douglas-Jones, Cathrine Hasse, Klaus Hoeyer, Dorthe Brogård Kristensen and Brit Ross Winthereik. Singapore: Springer Nature. Pp. 627-646.


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