Karen Belz
December 22, 2017 11:55 am

There’s a good chance you’ve seen a fair share of stock images in your life. While a ton of them are a bit goofy, they’re often used as a quick way to help illustrate a story. You may not have realized that mental health stock photos can be misleading, as they often paint an inaccurate photo of what suffering from a mental illness is actually like. Especially when it comes to bipolar disorder.

Mental disorders affect both your mood and your behavior — and while there are a lot of them, some of the most common are depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and bipolar disorder. It’s incredible that these stories are being written about in the first place. For quite some time, the topic was uncomfortable to bring up, even though so many people suffered — but in order to erase the stigma for good, it’s important to show an image that helps readers understand the issue at hand. A good image might help them identify the disorder in either themselves or their loved ones.

Chrysanthemum Tran, a poet and performer, noted how the bipolar pictures were pretty terrible. She made sure to bring up this issue in a Twitter thread that quickly went viral. “I made this thread as someone with bipolar who finds these popular depictions of bipolar frustrating, inaccurate, and silly,” Tran tweeted.

Her initial tweet was retweeted over 1,500 times, and the messages that followed were very important and very real.

Think about how many articles you’ve read on bipolar disorder, and try to think how many utilized the “mirror” — it’s probably more than you realized. And if not a mirror, it was probably letters.

A lot of people supported Tran and found her tweets to add a little humor to a serious subject. But not everyone was convinced, and a few good points were debated.

Others pinpointed that stock images in general rarely captured the emotion and topic they were going for. Not a lot of people take them seriously.

Still, we’re glad that Tran brought up the topic. We hope that in the future, photographers start aiming for a varied, less stereotypical direction when trying to put a picture on bipolar disorder.

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