Popular TV programmes increasing mental health awareness

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A recent report stated that television programmes, such as Coronation Street, EastEnders and Homeland, where sensitive portrayals of those with mental health problems are offered is boosting awareness of these conditions and pushing sufferers to look for help.

Mental health problems are appearing in programmes more often and this prompted researchers to consider the three programmes during their study.

A spokesman from Time to Change, a campaign group, said it is important for some of the most loved soap operas and drama series to tackle mental health storylines and do them in an accurate fashion by not promoting stigma, but help viewers to understand it better.

In excess of 2000 viewers were asked to answer questions, with around 54% saying that seeing a well-known character in a show being shown as suffering with a mental health problem has improved their overall understanding of what it involved.

About 48% said it changed their opinion about the type of person who could develop this type of problem.

Around 31% stated that they had had a discussion with their family or friends regarding the storylines.

Coronation Street is due to screen a story where one of its characters, Steve McDonald, receives a diagnosis of depression.

The producer of the show, Stuart Blackburn, said one of the challenges they face with this scenario is that the audience fears that the Steve they have come to love is gone forever. He said they have to find a way to reveal the truth about this situation, regardless of what it entails, and make it entertaining for the viewers.

He stated that he hopes a show such as Corrie could really make a difference to hundreds of thousands of people watching it and thinking that maybe they should go to the doctor for advice, but if they turn off the television, the show will not be getting through to them.

Image Credit: Global Panorama

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