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‘Get the Picture’ aims to change how we view people living with mental illness

What do you picture when you think of a depressed person? Someone slumped over a desk, their head in their hands? This is known as the “headclutcher” shot and it’s often what goes hand in hand with media coverage of mental health issues.

It’s time to change this says mental health anti-stigma programme Time to Change, which is run by mental health charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness. And so we have the “Get the Picture” campaign, supported by Stephen Fry, which offers the media a range of alternative images to the “headclutcher.”

According to a recent survey of over 2,000 people, 58 percent of them said the “headclutcher” image was stigmatising and 76 percent of them said that it makes people think those with mental health problems should look miserable all the time. Additionally one in three people reported that “headclutcher” images had triggered suicidal feelings.

More: Could Facebook really help you overcome depression?

As part of the campaign, a range of hi-res images have been taken by photographic agency Newscast, supported by the U.K. Picture Editors’ Guild and funded by the Department of Health, Comic Relief and the Big Lottery Fund.

Many of the images feature people with personal experience of mental health problems, such as 24-year-old Rehaan Ansari, a Newcastle University medical student, who said: “The ‘headclutcher’ is an unfair and inaccurate representation of what life is like with a mental health condition — but it’s often the image most commonly associated with people who experience them. It’s definitely time to change the backwards attitude that mental health conditions are something to be ashamed of.” 

With such a wide range of mental health-related stories to be reported by the media, from treatment options to research projects, it’s great to have images available that don’t stigmatise mental illness further.

How can you help the cause? Time to Change suggests taking a fun “headclutcher” selfie and tweeting it with #GoodbyeHeadclutcher. And if you see a media picture you think stigmatises mental health problems contact that outlet directly and tweet them with #GetThePicture.

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