Tonight, the Mind Media Awards winners will be announced at a ceremony in London, hosted by Mind’s president, Stephen Fry. The awards aim to recognise and celebrate the best in online, TV, radio and print media in representing mental health problems. They particularly recognise those who have successfully challenged the myths and stereotpyes that surround mental health problems, as well as those whose work includes the voices of people who have themselves experienced mental health problems.
Below are two pieces I put together after watching TV programmes. The reason I’ve written this blog post is that many people learn about, and form opinions on, mental illness from what they see on TV. The medium can have a big influence.
In that context, here are my thoughts on two recent programmes – a fly-on-the-wall documentary and a big budget costume drama. I’ve linked to two tweet stories – my tweets and the responses of other tweeps which add another dimension – and commented on them. I’ve included tweets sent during the programme – people’s reactions in real time – as well as reflections afterwards.
On Monday October 15th, ITV1’s “999 What’s your emergency?” had a mental health theme. The programme is a fly-on-the-wall documentary following staff from 3 of Blackpool’s emergency services, namely the police, ambulance and fire service. As I watched the programme, I was moved to start tweeting. My first tweet was:
“Ah, the familiar old stereotype of someone suffering mental distress being unpredictable & potentially violent.”
Staff are filmed as they go about their jobs, and interviewed afterwards to provide commentary. More details about the programme, as well as link to episodes, is included in the Storify story.
My first tweet was swiftly followed by:
“Er, hello, “split personality”? That’s not schizophrenia. Don’t ambos get any mental health training?”
“”The schizophrenic man”? You wouldn’t call someone “a cancerous man” would you? It’s the diagnosis, not the person.”
The programme – and tweets during and after the programme using the hashtag #999WhatsYourEmergency- illustrated some of society’s attitudes to mental illness. Some of what was said during the programme was jaw-droppingly ignorant (yes, one person referred to “fruitloops”), some of it plain silly and some highly compassionate & insightful. That also applies to the tweets sent during the programme. Read on to find out more.