BBC announces major mental health season in turbulent times

Mental Health Awareness Week (18-24 May 2020) this year falls in unprecedented times – the nation is coming to terms with isolation and uncertainty and the UK is facing an unknown future.

To mark the week, the BBC is curating a range of programming across TV, Radio and Digital that will transmit throughout the month of May. It is estimated that in the UK one in four of us will have some sort of mental health issue in our lifetime, and the BBC has a long commitment to showing impactful and critically acclaimed programmes that resonate strongly with those experiencing some form of mental illness.

Tony Hall, BBC Director-General, says: “Mental health is important – and during this pandemic more important than ever. Many people may be struggling alone, they may be worried about maintaining their own well-being or want to better equip themselves to help loved ones. That’s why bringing mental health issues out into the open is so important. Our programmes aim to do just that. They highlight the issues affecting many and will hopefully help people seek the support they need.

“The BBC wants to help. Hopefully these programmes will make a real difference. I want to thank all the contributors who have generously shared their personal stories with the BBC.”

Charlotte Moore, Director, BBC Content, says: “The BBC has a long commitment to tackling mental health issues in our programmes but it’s never felt more important to raise awareness and bring the conversation out into the open when so many people are feeling isolated and alone.

“We’re taking our commitment even further to provide a vital support to those in need and reach an even broader audience with programmes that will explore what we can all do to look after ourselves, help loved ones and deal with the anxiety so many are experiencing through this crisis.”

In addition to brand new programming, a selection of documentaries from the last two years will be shown in order to provide help to people who are struggling during these extraordinary circumstances.

In 2019, the BBC’s Mental Health Action Line received more than 83,000 online visits and calls from viewers, highlighting programmes such as those being shown by the BBC this May have a real impact with the viewers

The charity Mind analysed peaks in visits to its online information pages over six months following their first showings, and found that following the BBC Two documentary David Harewood: Psychosis And Me visits to Mind’s psychosis pages rose by 107 percent in comparison to the daily average; and there was a 50 percent increase in visits to its anxiety pages following the BBC One documentary Nadiya Hussain: Anxiety And Me.

Highlights across the month include brand new documentaries What’s The Matter with Tony Slattery and Tackling Mental Health with The Duke of Cambridge (w/t); BBC One, Two and Three will be re-showing some of its most impactful recent films, including Rio Ferdinand: Being Mum And Dad, Alastair Campbell: Depression And Me and Killed By My Debt.

There will be a weekly mix of specially curated music in Radio 3’s In Tune Mixtape; Radio 4 will look at the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic on both mental and physical health in Inside Health: The Virus; BBC Music and BBC Archive have worked with more than 100 organisations in an unprecedented collaboration to harness the power of music; BBC Ten Pieces has developed Music Memories for people who can’t see their loved ones at the moment; CBBC’s Newsround will look at themes around kindness; from BBC Wales The Sesh will focus on young mental health carers; BBC Scotland will feature kindness throughout the week of 18-24 May, as well as show the intimate film Playing The Game featuring footballer Gary O’Conner; and there will be special programming from BBC Northern Ireland.

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