'An opportunity to dispel the visual clichés of mental health'

Wellcome Photography Prize launched, with two of the five categories dedicated to mental health.

Wellcome Photography Prize returns for its second year, with submissions now open. This international photography prize focuses on stories from health, medicine and science affecting society and individuals worldwide. Call for entries is now open across five categories, including two which are dedicated to this year’s theme of mental health.

Aiming to explore how we can transform the science of mental health, this year’s theme looks to transform people’s preconceptions and visually address how people living with or recovering from mental health problems are represented on camera.

The overall winner of Wellcome Photography Prize will receive a £15,000 prize, with the winner of each of the five categories receiving £1,250. Prizes will be presented at an awards ceremony in London in summer 2020.  All shortlisted images will go on show at a public exhibition in London. 

Wellcome Photography Prize invites photographers, photojournalists, researchers, clinical photographers and artists to submit images across five categories:

  • Social perspectives – provide insight into the impact of health and disease on society
  • Hidden worlds – reveal details hidden in plain sight, or combat health taboos
  • Medicine in focus – explore healthcare delivery up close or from behind the scenes
  • Mental health (2020 theme): Single image – Dispel the visual clichés of mental illness
  • Mental health: Series (of up to 5) – Tell a story through related images across the spectrum of mental health

Jeremy Farrar, chair of the judging panel, and Director of Wellcome said: “Photography has a truly unique way of telling a complex story in an impactful way. Last year’s entries and shortlist were breath-taking examples of how powerful imagery can start conversations about how we respond to health challenges around the world.

“At Wellcome, we want to help shape the future of mental health research. There is no single narrative that describes this aspect of life that affects one in four people worldwide. Whether you are a professional, student or amateur photographer, the Prize presents an incredible opportunity to dispel the visual clichés of mental health and illness that help no one.

“A winning image may be based on an individual’s lived experience of health systems or depict how our health connects with the health of our planet. What will bring them together are the stories behind them. I am honoured to return as chair of the judging panel for the Prize and am very much looking forward to its second year.”

The shortlisted entries will be shown alongside a photo series commissioned by Wellcome, which will tell an in-depth story on the theme of mental health from the perspective of an award-winning documentary photographer, to be announced later this year.

Now returning for its second year in this revised format, Wellcome Photography Prize reaches an even wider pool of photographers and image makers across the world.

The 2019 winner'I Feel Relaxed When I Play with String’, a photograph by Erin Lefevre of her brother Liam, provided powerful insight into living with autism and explores what makes us human. The other category winners explore featured a hidden story about disability, sex and wellbeing, the role robots could play in helping to care for society’s ageing populations and how researchers are identifying zoonotic diseases before they become a pandemic threat.

Entries to the Wellcome Photography Prize 2020 will be accepted on the website which contains full terms and conditions for entry. The deadline for entries is 16 December 2019.

Image credit: Matt Writtle/Wellcome Photography Prize 2019. Each of these women have experienced loss and isolation and met at ‘Pop In Group’ in Chesham, UK. It’s designed to encourage companionship within the community. They now take the bus together for weekly shopping trips and holiday together.

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