Mental Health

Mental health on and off screen can no longer be ignored

Lauren McQueen played Lilly Drinkwell in Hollyoaks (Credit: Channel 4)

The death of Steve Dymond following his appearance on The Jeremy Kyle Show last month is a sombre lesson on the power that television has over people’s lives.

The participant on the controversial daytime programme had failed a lie-detector test, having been accused of infidelity by his fiancée. Following his death, the show was initially taken off air and then axed by ITV Chief Executive Carolyn McCall.

TV figures discuss the mental health issues within the industry at RTS event

The long-running Lime Pictures soap for young adults has been widely praised for its portrayal of mental ill health. Storylines have addressed depression and bulimia and, earlier this year, self-harm, which ended with the death of the character, Lily McQueen, from sepsis.

“My mum took her own life when I was seven and I later lost my dad to addiction,” Kirkwood said. “More than mental ill health, it was the silence that crippled us. Nobody ever spoke about it.

Dave launches mental health campaign

(Credit: UKTV)

Calm is an award-winning charity dedicating to tackling the rate of suicide among men and challenging a culture that prevents men from seeking help.

Titled ‘Be the mate you’d want’, the new campaign aims to highlight the significant power of small gestures towards friends going through a hard time.

During the campaign comedian James Acaster will voice positive mental health awareness promos, which will take over a four-minute commercial ad break. Next year the movement will also include a podcast and a commissioned comedy to support male friendship.

TV’s mental health challenge

Working in TV can mean realising a dream. From meeting interesting people to attending glitzy award ceremonies, the television industry is, undoubtedly, an exciting place to work. But, amid shrinking budgets, long hours and a largely freelance working culture, what once looked like a fulfilling career can turn out to involve an unbearable toll on our mental health.

Chris Packham: Fighting for change

“If you have a voice, you’ve got to use it for good,” the presenter claims emphatically. “I find myself restraining my contempt with my peers who don’t use their position creatively.”

Celebrities who express support in private, but refuse to speak out publicly, are neglecting the responsibilities and privileges their position gives them, he believes.  “I just think, what do you do with your public platform? Apart from enjoying the limelight and collecting the money, what do you stand up for?

How television is tackling mental health

Bipolar disorder and coping with death are two topics not usually associated with children’s television. Broadcasters, however, have woken up to their responsibility to tackle mental-health issues, and even kids’ television is rising to the challenge.

Cheryl Taylor, controller of CBBC, which caters for children aged 6-12, believes that social media has reinforced the need for mental-health lessons because many children lie about their age to create social-media profiles long before they turn 13.

Jack Rooke's hunt for the Happy Man

“I think in the past two years, the whole conversation [about mental illness] has become saturated with the importance of talking – which I think is important, but the conversation has got to progress beyond that.”

His show, Happy Man, launched on BBC Three last week, and sees the comedian try a range of approaches to tackling depression, including cold water swimming (“one of the worst things I have ever done”), running, life modelling (“scary”) and drag.

BBC announce a season of films on mental health

There will be a variety of programmes that touch on the sensitive topics surrounding mental health and the exploring the ways in which people approach mental health issues.

The season will include a two-part programme following a group of runners affected by mental health issues as they train for the London Marathon on BBC One; a Horizon Special exploring schizophrenia and advancements in the treatment of psychoses on BBC Two; a documentary on stress for BBC One, and a documentary from mental health campaigner and presenter Jack Rooke on BBC Three.