Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Meredith Johnson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Norbert Elliot, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Nathan Johnson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Christa Teston, Ph.D.


Disability, Professional Writing, Rhetoric, Technical Communication


This dissertation explores how mental health legislation and related policy documents contribute to identification, diagnosis, and stigmatization. Using a mixed methods approach including content and stylometric text analysis with R as a heuristic for close and critical reading, I demonstrate how these documents normalize mental health concerns as a public threat. To do this work, I analyze how the Florida Mental Health Act (Chapter 394) and the Florida Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act (SB 7026) circulate and sustain dominant narratives about mental illness. I trace where these narratives are distributed into Florida school districts’ mandatory mental health plans. These mental health plans govern the identification, surveillance, and threat assessment of K-12 student based on their perceived mental status. Students identified as potential threats are referred to and tracked by school district personnel and local law enforcement. Policies like Chapter 394 and SB 7026 identify students as threats reinforce stigma for those experiencing mental health concerns. Richly describing the connection between stigmatization, policy, and privilege helps the field better understand the biopolitics of diagnosis and treatment.