Lisa Geurts

Research project: Mental health representations in horror cinema and television


Mental health is often depicted as a topic in horror cinema and television. While traditionally, this was mainly depicted through characters with psychological disorders as villains, for example The Shining and Psycho, more recently horror has taken an approach that aims to improve the understanding of people who suffer from mental health issues, such as the Netflix limited series The Haunting of Hill House. 

This research project explores the history of the portrayal of madness in horror film and television and the messages that such media texts send out.  It also seeks to understand what are the most representative and positive ways is to frame messages about mental health disorders to audiences.

As the creative counterpart of this PhD, a screenplay for a limited horror series will be produced, which will be influenced by the research conducted in the thesis.

  • Research degree: Practice-based PhD
  • Title of project: Mental health representations in horror cinema and television
  • Research supervisor: Dr Colette Balmain
  • Other research supervisor: Dr Matthew Melia


In 2014, I graduated from the University of Greenwich, with a BA in Media Writing, which combined the teaching of the disciplines of screenwriting and journalism. Since graduating, I spent a few years gaining transferable skills in the work field, but ultimately academia sparked my interest again. As a result of an interest in the field of psychology, I studied for the MSc in Psychology at Kingston University. Whilst I learnt a great deal on this degree that enabled me to develop my research skills and knowledge in the field of psychology, I decided I wanted to focus on film, television, and creative writing, focusing on horror and mental health. Besides working on my PhD, I enjoy working on screenwriting and acting, as well as other forms of creative writing such as literary writing, playwrighting, and writing film reviews.

Areas of research interest

  • Horror film
  • Horror television
  • Mental health
  • Representations in media
  • Screenwriting


  • MSc (Merit) Psychology, Kingston University
  • BA (Hons) Media Writing, University of Greenwich