Congratulations and kudos to the Sunday Express and editor Martin Townsend for being the first British newspaper to pledge not to use the abominable headclutcher images.
The cliche stock photographs of a man or woman – normally from the middle-aged, middle-class fashion modelling clique – to illustrate depression and other mental health conditions by pressing hands to head and grimacing is pathetic and needs to be made history.
These outdated images reinforce stereotypes cause offence, endorse stigma and are from an age when mental health was regarded as something akin to sorcery.
For media outlets to still be using these library images is scarcely believable. There has been a lot of progress in editorial approach to mental health but the fossilised convenience of whistling up a headclutcher is unacceptable.
I don’t want to deny any actor or model precious work but, really, should you be posing for these photo shoots? I’m guessing they are tacked onto an afternoon of stock imagery work ranging from ‘missing the bus’ to ‘having a cold’ when the photographic team discover they have 30 minutes studio time left and say: ‘Why don’t we finish with a couple of headclutchers – they always get used….ok guys everyone into position….Lucy, just tilt you’re head a bit further forward and really press your temples….that’s it, that’s proper anxiety….Mike, ruffle your hair a bit more and drop the stoicism, we’re not doing ‘waiting at the opticians anymore’…that’s it add a bit of gel for maximum crumpled look and, voila, its bipolar…could even double as paranoia…good session guys, its a wrap.’
Outdated, out of order and, hopefully soon, out of the door.
The Sunday Express – declaration, I write for them – has been crusading for mental health for almost three years years, a rare sustained campaign to make society better. http://www.express.co.uk
Editor Martin Townsend and his team are committed to changing the mental health landscape and the decision to stop using headcluthers is typically bold. I hope others follow suit.
Time to Change – http://www.time-to-change.org.uk – plus a range of organisations and campaigners are meeting to find alternative images – sorry Lucy & Mike – to make it easier for picture desks. But this is a landmark step so lets welcome it and work hard to eradicate headclutchers!