Australians call for a more accurate visual representation of mental illness

March 13, 2016 • Company News

Australia – March 14, 2016:  Australia’s national mental health charity, SANE Australia, and Getty Images, the world’s leader in visual communications, today released the results of the first national research project into the way mental illness is portrayed visually in Australia.

The Picture This survey of more than 5000 Australians – 70% of whom had experienced mental illness – found that the majority of respondents wanted images that place more emphasis on the human side of mental illness, rather than abstract portrayals or pictures of pills.

SANE Australia CEO, Jack Heath, said, “While community attitudes towards the way we speak about mental illness, along with the Australian media’s reporting of this complex issue, are among the most responsible in the world, the way mental illness is visually portrayed remains a concern for many Australians, especially associations with violence.”

“The Picture This survey results show that Australians want to see images of real people that convey a sense of both struggle and hope.

“Through our collaboration with Getty Images we can educate photographers and the community at large while encouraging the supply and use of images that present a fair and accurate view of mental illness.”

Cameron Solnordal, who has lived with schizophrenia for more than 15 years, said he and his family’s experience and understanding of mental illness had evolved over time.

“Through our varied understanding of mental illness we all gain unique perspectives which continue to change as time goes on,” Mr Solnordal said.

“On day one of my journey with my illness, my family would have pictured schizophrenia as a locked and bolted door in the doctor’s office that had ‘mental Illness’ roughly scrawled in broken red crayon.

“Today, my illness would just be pictured as a door that we pass through when we go outside. There are no locks, no bolts and it will never slam shut. Mental illness was only made scarier by simply what we didn’t know at the time.”

Stuart Hannagan, Vice President of Editorial – Australasia, Getty Images, said, “At Getty Images we feel passionately that images have the power to change the way people view the world and depicting diversity is one of our biggest priorities.”

“While we cannot change what people publish or click on overnight, we are committed to providing a diverse range of imagery that accurately and sensitively reflects the experience of mental illness in Australia, and broadens the options available for those looking to create stories that are more authentic.

“This collaboration with SANE Australia will help content creators – from the media through to ad agencies, and anyone consuming content, to visualise a better world in which mental illness is portrayed more authentically.”

An outdoor exhibition of photography that reflects the results of Picture This is on display at The Atrium at Melbourne’s Federation Square until March 18.

Getty Images has hand curated a selection of images that reflect the findings of the PictureThis survey. To find them visit and search “PictureThis”. In addition, Getty Images is giving everyone the chance to contribute their images, based on the research results and five key recommendations developed by SANE, by visiting

SANE Australia is also asking the public to join the conversation online about how they picture mental illness by visiting


About Getty Images:

Getty Images is the most trusted and esteemed source of visual content in the world, with over 200 million assets available through its industry-leading sites and The Getty Images website serves creative, business and media customers in almost 200 countries and is the first place people turn to discover, purchase and share powerful content from the world’s best photographers and videographers. Getty Images works with over 200,000 contributors and hundreds of image partners to provide comprehensive coverage of more than 130,000 news, sport and entertainment events, impactful creative imagery to communicate any commercial concept and the world’s deepest digital archive of historic photography.


Visit Getty Images at to learn more about how the company is advancing the unique role of still and moving imagery in communication and business, and enabling creative ideas to come to life.  For company news and announcements, visit our Press Room, and for the stories and inspiration behind our content, visit Stories & Trends. Find Getty Images on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Tumblr, or download the Getty Images app where you can explore, save and share the world’s best imagery.

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