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#GoodbyeHeadclutcher campaign significant for Health care professionals in psychological distress

Wow – I have been so impressed with the #GetThePicture campaign this week -> 

I felt that this would also be pertinent for those working within the #NHS who may be struggling with poor mental health. To me, the head in hands image that is used so widely within the media has connotations of those in distress being out of control and unable to manage their condition. Of course there may be times when those in need do hold their head in their hands, but their story will be much wider than this single portrayal of despair. Within the healthcare services, one of the biggest barriers to help seeking is the stigma, and self stigma associated with ‘not coping’ in the professional sense (Renton, 2014). The fear that a healthcare professional may be judged as being professionally as well as mentally unstable means that many health care professionals never seek help or do it after years of suffering (Clark, 1999, Laposa et al., 2003).

The leading reason given for non disclosure in health care professionals is that staff are concerned that the disclosure of mental ill health may negatively affect their careers (Dewa, 2014). With images in the media implying that those with mental ill health are constantly unable to cope and sat in despair, we may see rates of self stigma increase, and rates of help seeking decline. This will paradoxically put patients at risk of compromised care, and drive secrets underground (Moberly, 2014). We all would like to see those in need receive help and feel well. To do do this, they must be willing to seek and receive help. With this in mind, I would be pleased to see future images of those with mental health issues smiling, seeking help, talking and being a part of every day life.

Health care professionals in psychological distress are doing just this, smiling ‘coping’ and working in the #NHS. If we can normalise help seeking, rather than the stigma of not coping, we may be that much closer to healing the healer.

@TimetoChange has suggested the following things to end #Stigma in this area:

  • 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 stigmatises 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.

#TimeToTalk #TimetoChange @TimetoChange

Clark, D. (1999) Anxiety disorders: why they persist and how to treat them. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 37 (1999), pp. S5–S27

Dewa, C. (2014) Worker Attitudes towards Mental Health Problems and Disclosure. The international journal of occupational and environmental medicine, 2014, Vol.5 (4), pp.175-86

Laposa, J. M., & Alden, L. E. (2003) (1). Posttraumatic stress disorder in the emergency room: Exploration of a cognitive model. Behavior Research and Therapy, 41,49–65.

Moberly  , T (2014) GMC is “traumatising” unwell doctors and may be undermining patient safety, Gerada says, BMJ Careers. Available from http://careers.bmj.com/careers/advice/view-article.html?id=20017662 (Accessed 11.11.14)

Renton, T., Tang HEnnis NCusimano MDBhalerao SSchweizer TATopolovec-Vranic J. (2014) Web-based intervention programs for depression: a scoping review and evaluation. J Med Internet Res. 2014 Sep 23;16(9)

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