November 18, 2014

TV Dramas Boost Mental Health Awareness

Top TV dramas have been taking on mental health storylines – and they are making a difference, researchers say.

02:46, UK, Tuesday 11 November 2014

The Duchess Of Cornwall - Coronation Street Visit

TV has the 'ability to shape and form public opinion' researchers claim

More realistic storylines are helping viewers of top TV dramas understand mental health better.

Researchers looked at programmes like Coronation Street, EastEnders and Homeland as part of the study.

Mental health issues are now appearing more often in programmes and are more likely to encourage people to seek help, said campaign group Time To Change.

A spokesman said: "It's important that some of the country's best-loved soaps and drama series are taking on mental health storylines, doing them accurately, not fuelling stigma and helping improve understanding."

More than 2,000 viewers were questioned, with more than half (54%) saying that seeing a well-known character on screen portrayed as having a mental health problem improved their understanding of what it involved.

Almost half (48%) said it helped change their opinion about who can develop such problems.

Nearly a third (31%) said they had discussed storylines with their friends or family.

Coronation Street is set to feature a story where one of its best-known characters, Steve McDonald, is diagnosed with depression.

Producer Stuart Blackburn said: "A particular challenge we faced with Steve and his depression is the audience's fear that the Steve they loved is gone for good.

"We've got to find a way to tell the truth about this, warts and all, and entertain the audience.

"You hope a show like Corrie can genuinely make a difference to tens if not hundreds of thousands of people, who'll be watching with different eyes or thinking 'Maybe I should go to the doctor' – but we won't get through to them if they're turning off."