A few months ago I received an email with a charity looking for people to be photographed in a new set of images for the media. I didn’t take part due to the fact the image could be used any where, on anything, associated with any diagnosis or issue. This week they released the photographs (available from Newscast) as part of the ‘Get The Picture’ campaign.
I’m not sure what I think to it as an issue, but I can’t argue against solid evidence. Time to Change collected data from nearly 2,000 people and found that 80% stated headclutcher images do not show how it really feels and that images of suicide can be triggering.
I am mixed. On the one hand, sometimes having a mental health problem is headclutching. It is exhaustion and desperation. However, the point raised that this is not always what having a mental health problem is like, sways me a little towards this being a necessary, and positive change. What is really great to see is people recognising what is a problem, and addressing it.
Images, as well all know, say a thousand words. Journalists, editors, and other agencies need to be careful with this. A picture probably gets slammed on without much thought of the implications at time, but the way this can impact upon public attitudes and perceptions is probably fairly significant.
The new photographs definitely portray a more positive picture of mental illness. Though I can’t help but think sometimes mental illness isn’t positive. Sometimes it isn’t a conversation with someone else. Sometimes it is being alone, and struggling, and I would hope the various forms of media using these images will take into consider what is more appropriate based on the article itself.