Community Mental Health Journal

, Volume 55, Issue 1, pp 120–128 | Cite as

The Disclosure of Celebrity Major Depressive Disorder Diagnoses in Hong Kong: Its Effects on Public Awareness and Understanding Toward the Illness

  • Vivienne S. Y. Leung


This paper aims to examine consumer perception toward celebrity diagnoses of major depressive disorder (MDD) in Hong Kong and to provide insights into the effect of various factors on the persuasive effectiveness of MDD communication. A total of thirty-five interviews were conducted in April 2015. Interviewees in general are aware of celebrity MDD diagnoses, but they do not deem MDD as a threat to themselves. Hence, they are not motivated to learn more about the symptoms. Responses to celebrity MDD diagnoses are mixed. Many interviewees are sympathetic toward ill celebrities diagnosed with MDD, but some of the interviewees are dubious about the true intention behind disclosing their diagnoses to the public. Compared to non-fans, fans reported a greater increase in the level of knowledge of MDD after reading related media stories about celebrity MDD diagnoses. Source credibility is perceived as an important factor in MDD communication. This research suggests that the government or NGOs may use credible celebrities whose image can be associated with MDD and cooperate with fan clubs to spread health-related information. The paper represents the first attempt to investigate the effects of celebrity disclosure of MDD diagnoses on the mental disorder-related perceptions of the general public in Hong Kong.


Celebrity Depressive disorder Attitudes Health communication Hong Kong 



I would like to thank Project Assistant Ms. Sally Ho for her help in the literature review and students from GDBU/GDSS1855 in the academic year of 2014/15 for their help in data collection.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Informed Consent

Informed consent was provided by all participants in this research as per ethical guidelines in Hong Kong at the time of the study. All participants were aware that the interview was conducted on voluntary basis and they agreed to partake.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Communication StudiesHong Kong Baptist UniversityKowloon TongHong Kong

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