BBC One is to dedicate two weeks of scheduling to explore mental health issues across a range of programming including news, drama, documentaries and features.
Starting on Monday, February 15, BBC One’s ‘In the Mind’ season will include stories of life and death, hope, scientific discovery and more to help raise public awareness and understanding of issues relating to mental health. Flagship programmes including EastEnders, The One Show and the News at Ten will all carry content.
“This is a moment when we stop and reflect on one of the big issues of our time, one that touches all of us,” said James Harding, director of BBC News. “We will report and examine – with all the BBC’s expertise, insight and understanding – on what’s really happening in mental health.”
Charlotte Moore, controller BBC TV Channels and iPlayer, added: “Ten years on since Stephen Fry's Emmy-award-winning film about manic depression, it now feels like the right time to bring this important subject to a mainstream audience on BBC One. To find out what has changed, what progress has been made and what the future holds for people living with mental health conditions in the UK. Over the last decade, we've broken down taboos, and medical advances mean we have a greater understanding of the brain than ever before, but we're not there yet. There is still so much more that needs to be done.”
The In The Mind season will include BBC News at Six and News at Ten broadcasting a series of special reports on subjects including neuroscience, the NHS, electro-convulsive therapy, lifesaving charities, changing social attitudes and mental health in the black community.
Meanwhile, EastEnders’ postpartum psychosis storyline featuring Stacey Branning takes a dramatic turn across the In The Mind season. Stacey (Lacey Turner), who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2009, developed postpartum psychosis after the birth of her son, Arthur, at Christmas. In recent weeks, Martin, Stacey’s boyfriend, managed to get Stacey to hospital, where she was eventually sectioned. Now Martin struggles as he desperately tries to find space in a mother and baby unit so Stacey can be reunited with Arthur, while carrying on with the treatment she desperately needs.
But over the course of this week, Stacey's story intensifies and viewers will see her make a life-changing decision that hugely concerns Martin. EastEnders has been working alongside Mind and Bipolar UK and other experts in the field to highlight postpartum psychosis.
Lacey Turner will also be appearing on The One Show on February 15, alongside Dominic Treadwell-Collins, executive producer of EastEnders, to discuss the role popular dramas like EastEnders can play in raising awareness around mental health issues, and what work and research they do behind the camera with organisations like Mind to ensure accurate portrayals.
Also on February 15, the ‘Inside Out’ regions will cover mental health issues with their own individual films. Covering a range of subjects, including how vulnerable teenagers experiencing mental health problems are falling through the cracks between childhood and adulthood mental health services; investigating how A&E has become the new frontline in dealing with people in mental health crisis; suicide rates, mental health support for transgender people; carers looking after family members in poor mental health; police and mental health services.
Again on February 15, at 9pm, The Not So Secret Life Of The Manic Depressive: 10 Years On will be shown. This follows on from Stephen Fry’s award-winning series shown a decade ago when he first spoke about living with manic depression, and began a national conversation about mental health. A decade later, he returns to the subject to understand where he and thousands of others diagnosed with bipolar are now and, as a society, do we need to do more for those with the illness? Is the treatment better? Has the stigma reduced?
Interviews with Fry give an insight into what living with bipolar really means – he talks about his suicide attempt while filming in Uganda in 2012; how his busy lifestyle exacerbates his condition, and his realisation that his condition can’t be cured but only managed. Looking at the changes of the past decade, Fry finds optimism in the increased awareness of bipolar, especially among the young. The film gives a powerful insight into living with bipolar – past, present and most significantly, future.
On the following day at 10.45pm, My Baby, Psychosis And Me will reveal the frightening roller-coaster journey of two mums for whom childbirth triggers postpartum psychosis, one of the most severe forms of mental illness. Filmed over six months, it closely follows the intense experiences of Jenny and Hannah and their families as they are cared for at Winchester’s Mother And Baby Unit.
Behind the closed doors of this specialist psychiatric ward, Dr Alain Gregoire and his expert team give women the care and intensive treatment they need to recover. While psychosis is the most severe form of mental distress psychiatrists see, with the right medication and psychological support, most women can return home within six weeks. And round-the-clock support with childcare enables mums and their babies to stay together, rather than face a damaging separation. From the bedroom to the nursery, the hospital theatre to the psychiatrist’s chair – we watch the most personal moments of motherhood and mental illness play out for Jenny and Hannah, as Dr Gregoire and his team face two of the most challenging cases they’ve experienced.
In addition, other recent mental health programmes will be repeated, including rapper Professor Green’s documentary Suicide and Me and Life After Suicide, which asks the questions that haunt those bereaved by suicide: why do some people choose to take their own lives and how do those that love them ever come to terms with that loss?