Get the Picture: Be Rid of the Headclutcher! |

Get the Picture: Be Rid of the Headclutcher!

Help end mental health discrimination with Time to Change, England's biggest programme to challenge stigmas and discrimination.

Posted on

31 March 2015

Last updated on 22 May 2017
Get the Picture: Be Rid of the Headclutcher!

Mental health problems are common - but nearly nine out of ten people who experience them say they face stigma and discrimination as a result. This can be even worse than the symptoms themselves. 

Time to Change is an anti-stigma campaign run by the leading mental health charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness. These two charities decided to work together, combining their knowledge, skills and expertise, in the biggest attempt yet in England to end the discrimination that surrounds mental health.

Get The Picture

Images are an extremely powerful way of telling a story and the photos that accompany articles in the media have great impact. Mental health is a broad and complex topic to illustrate, but we're campaigning to help newspapers, TV and online news outlets get it right.

Very often, we see an image of a person holding their head in their hands. All manner of mental health stories - about anything from talking treatments to scientific research - are illustrated by a 'headclutcher' photo. But what alternatives to the 'headclutcher' and other stigmatising images do picture editors have?

Time to Change Get the Picture campaign headclutcher

As a result, Time to Change launched their Get the Picture campaign with a wide range of images, that are free to download from their page on the Newscast website. They are hi-res and suitable to be published alongside news stories and features. Time to Change want picture editors to have a real choice of realistic and relevant photos to bring reports about mental health to life. The library of bold and striking imagery for use in print and digital media is accessible to all, and all images are available for free download. 

'People with mental health problems don’t look depressed all the time'

We all know that a picture can be just as damaging as words when used to depict stories about mental illness.

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And, crucially, Time to Change asked members of the public who support our charities for their views. Nearly 2,000 responded:

  • Eight in 10 people told us headclutchers don’t show how it feels to have a mental health problem
  • Images of suicide may trigger suicidal feelings – one in three reported these
  • People with mental health problems don’t look depressed all the time
The campaign recognises the importance of portraying real people. Some of the images available to download feature people with personal experiences of mental health problems:

"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", - Rehaan Ansari, medical student at Newcastle University and Get the Picture model.   

How can you help? 

  • Picture editors - look for an image that is truly relevant to the story; think about mental health problems as you would when portraying other illnesses; avoid ‘headclutcher’ shots; be sensitive when illustrating stories about suicide and self-harm.
  • Members of the public - take a fun ‘headclutcher’ selfie, and tweet it with #GoodbyeHeadclutcher; if you see a picture you think mental health problems in the media, contact that outlet directly, and tweet them with #GetThePicture.
  • Picture agencies - weed out ‘headclutchers’ and other stigmatising pictures from your image libraries; make sure your categories and keywords can help picture editors find appropriate images easily; commission your own range of positive images.
  • Photographers - think of new creative ways to portray mental health problems; use a diverse range of people; take more shots of people being listened to and supported by others. pledges to replace all discriminating and stigmatising images that may have ever been used on our website, and will ensure none are used from this point forward. March 2015.*

To find out more about Time to Change and the Get the Picture campaign, please visit:



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