Maudsley Hospital South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM) has teamed up with Channel 4 to make a documentary series on the workings of the mental health trust.

The series, titled Bedlam, explores the most profound decisions involved in treating people with mental illness; told by the people who experience it on a daily basis and the clinical staff who provide care and treatment.

The four-part series offers unprecedented access to SLaM and explores a number of mental illnesses, including depression, psychosis and severe anxiety. The series seeks to challenge the myths and taboos surrounding mental illness and gives a voice to patients.

Matthew Patrick, SLaM’s chief executive, said: “This is a great opportunity to promote public awareness and understanding of mental health. 

“This is the most comprehensive access producers have ever had to a mental health trust and viewers will see our pioneering services, dedicated staff in action and our incredible patients as they battle with mental illness. 

“The films are powerful, bold and honest. We are very proud to be taking part in something so ground-breaking and I hope it goes some way to making a difference to the lives of vulnerable people.” 

In the first programme, Anxiety, patients are followed through Bethlem Royal Hospital’s 18-bed Anxiety and Disorders Residential Unit. This unit treats the most anxious people in the country – the top 1% – and claims a success rate of three in four patients. Some are consumed by irrational fears they’ve caused a road accident in their sleep, harmed strangers or have intrusive thoughts.

The following week’s programme is called Crisis. In this, cameras are allowed in to Lambeth Hospital’s Triage ward for the first time. In a postcode with the highest rates of psychosis in Europe, this is the accident and emergency of mental health where patients are at their most unwell. 

In the third programme, called Psychosis, a community mental health team is followed. The lion’s share of SLaM’s work takes place in the community, looking after more than 35,000 people with mental ill health.

The final programme, Breakdown, focuses on older adults. The number of older people with mental ill health is estimated to increase by a third over the next 15 years to 4.3 million. Bereavement, stress and loneliness can contribute and some end up on the Older Adults Ward at Maudsley Hospital. 

Amy Flanagan, series executive producer, said: “We saw many of the patients’ lives transform over the year we made this series with the staff at SLaM. 

“Making this series was very different from the others I have been involved in and it has been challenging, rewarding and fascinating.

“I hope people watch Bedlam - and realise that unlike 750 years ago, it’s not a place where people come to laugh at the mentally ill, but where thousands of patients in hospital wards, residential units and out in the community are looked after by staff every single day.”

Bedlam starts at 9pm on Thursday, October 31 on Channel 4.

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