Abstract

Public perception and attitudes of mental illness are heavily influenced by mass media, so it is important the visual communication delivered into society is responsible and not unintentionally damaging. Stereotypes are used frequently in visual communication for speed of understanding. However, stereotypes are often based on unfounded assumptions, and these assumptions can cause stigma towards the stereotyped group. This study questions what stereotypes, if any, are present in stock images of mental illness and discusses what effect they may have on stigma. There have been previous calls for images such as the ‘headclutcher’ to not be used to represent mental illness as many believe them to be an inaccurate depiction. The results of this study provides recommendations for media outlets, and encourages other researchers and organisations to pay consideration to the imagery they use for communication about mental illness, to ensure no unintentional stigma is caused.

Keywords

visual communication, mental illness, stock images, stigma

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Conference Track

Research Paper

COinS
 
Jun 25th, 9:00 AM

Are stereotypes, such as the ‘headclutcher’, in stock images for mental illness stigmatizing?

Public perception and attitudes of mental illness are heavily influenced by mass media, so it is important the visual communication delivered into society is responsible and not unintentionally damaging. Stereotypes are used frequently in visual communication for speed of understanding. However, stereotypes are often based on unfounded assumptions, and these assumptions can cause stigma towards the stereotyped group. This study questions what stereotypes, if any, are present in stock images of mental illness and discusses what effect they may have on stigma. There have been previous calls for images such as the ‘headclutcher’ to not be used to represent mental illness as many believe them to be an inaccurate depiction. The results of this study provides recommendations for media outlets, and encourages other researchers and organisations to pay consideration to the imagery they use for communication about mental illness, to ensure no unintentional stigma is caused.

 

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