A new campaign has been launched to change the “headclutcher” image that often characterises the mainstream media’s portrayal of mental health.

How does the mainstream media portrayal mental health?

The mainstream media generally turn to stock images when they need to show what mental health looks like. Termed headclutcher images, these portrayals usually feature a solitary figure, cast in dark or sombre lighting clutching their head in their hands. They “look” depressed.

This is a depiction that mental health charities and campaigners have objected to for years. Charlotte Walker, who has bi-polar disorder, recently summed up why in a blog on the BBC’s website. She argued that it’s “too reductionist” and that obscuring the face is a mistake because “the face is exactly where we should be looking if we want to check how someone we know is feeling.”

Get the Picture

A new campaign is attempting to change the way the media portrays mental health. It’s called  Get the Picture and has been launched by Time to Change; a collaborative campaign from mental health charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, which seeks to reduce the stigma around mental health.

The campaign argues that stock headclutcher images fail to accurately illustrate how it feels to live with a mental health condition. Get the Picture asked 2,000 respondents whether headclutcher images accurately portray mental health issues and four in five said no.

How does Get the Picture portray mental health?

The campaign has released a series of pictures which it feels portrays mental health more realistically. Get the Picture has released the images for free via photography firm Newscast, to make it as easy as possible for journalists to access pictures which accurately depict mental health.

Get the Picture has released two types of image to redefine portrayals mental health. They both show real people who have had mental health problems during their lifetimes. The first features sensitively-shot anonymous subjects with more of their face shown than you would find in a headclutcher image. The second features people doing everyday things like talking.

Helping people overcome mental health problems

The aim of this campaign is clear. It hopes to use the power of the image to redefine the conversation around mental health in the UK. However, this is only half the battle in helping people overcome mental health problems.

Taking therapies such as counselling can help people move past mental health issues. This country needs as many counsellors as it can get. You can become a counsellor by taking a number a Chrysalis courses through Chrysalis Not For Profit.

Chrysalis Not For Profit

Established in 1998, Chrysalis Not For Profit is now the UK’s market-leading trainer in talking therapies. We offer creative, enjoyable and relaxed courses fully accredited by the relevant professional bodies on a part-time basis to fit around your commitments.

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