mental health
Image- The Madness Issue , July/August 2020 (Vogue Portugal)

Vogue Magazine Faces Backlash for Unethical Mental Health Cover

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, mental health disorders have reportedly been on the rise. Health experts are warning people to stay connected with friends and family in order to curb feelings of loneliness in isolation. However, there are many other factors that play a role in rising levels of depression and anxiety. Some of the factors such as economic insecurity can prevent people from seeking help.

Consequently, many organizations and agencies are uring people to talk about mental health as much as possible. No matter what the problem is, it is important to communicate, even with a trusted relative. Recently, Vogue Portugal has also released its latest edition with a cover highlighting mental health.

Instead of encouraging people to get help for their mental issues, the cover does the exact opposite. In fact, Vogue Portugal’s cover has received a lot of criticism from the general public and even the medical community. Most mental health experts have deemed the cover to be in ‘bad taste and ‘offensive’.

Even though the magazine stated that the cover was made to encourage people to discuss mental health, experts state it can instead reinforce negative stereotypes. For example, the cover shows a naked woman in a bathtub surrounded by two nurses. The imagery comes off as “unethical”, according to Katerina Alexandraki, who is a psychologist in London.

“For those with experience of the psychiatric system, seeing a fashion magazine cover presenting a woman in such a vulnerable state can be a reminder of a very challenging time in their lives,” says Alexandraki. “This image reinforces the idea of women being vulnerable and helpless during a mental health breakdown. It does not show us the effort those with mental health put in to overcome their struggles, their strengths, and resistance to overcome adversity,”

In addition to health care workers, other models and fashion industry workers are also speaking against the cover.  Sara Sampaio, who is one of the most famous Portuguese models also says the cover was in bad taste. Furthermore, she also said that it shows a rather outdated image of mental hospitals that practically “torture” people.

Vogue Portugal, initially did not agree with the major backlash. However, it eventually changed its cover and apologized for any offense caused by the imagery.

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According to health experts, the image was especially more sensitive and offensive due to the coronavirus pandemic. The ongoing health crisis has triggered a wave of mental health disorders. Many are now warning about an incoming mental health epidemic after a coronavirus health crisis.

Therefore, it is important to reach out and get help on time. Mental issues worsen over time and become more and more difficult to treat. In many of the cases, one mental health disorder can often lead to another. For instance, most people with anxiety develop depression eventually or vice versa.

Although the pandemic has limited resources for mental health, online help is available at many health facilities. In fact, telehealth is gaining more and more popularity. So, it is good to use the facility and prevent any mental issues from progressing further.