BBC announces major pan-BBC Mental Health season

The BBC has announced a major new pan-BBC Mental Health season with content across network and regional television, national and local radio and digital platforms.

Coinciding with Mental Health Awareness Week, this season demonstrates the BBC’s ongoing commitment to shining a light on mental health issues and how they affect individuals and society today.

Millions of people are affected by mental illness; it is estimated that one in six people in the past week have experienced a common mental health problem. Many more of us will know someone who has been affected, whether this is a friend, loved one or work colleague. This pan-BBC season will raise awareness, share stories and experiences and provide support and tips on maintaining good mental health and wellbeing.

The BBC is working alongside a wide range of organisations with an interest in mental health including Public Health England, Mental Health Foundation, the Reading Agency and Libraries Connected.

Alison Kirkham, Controller, Factual Commissioning, says: “The BBC has a long commitment to tackling mental health issues. Films such as Stephen Fry on bi-polar disorder or Rio Ferdinand on bereavement helped bring the conversation into the open and resonated with audiences.

“We’re taking our commitment even further this year with a truly pan-BBC season of programmes. Across TV, radio and online, we want to reach a wide and varied audience – whether it be someone who feels otherwise alone facing their challenges; or those who are supporting loved ones; or those of us who want to learn more about maintaining our own wellbeing. We know that these programmes really do make a difference.”

Bob Shennan, BBC Group Managing Director, says: “Public service broadcasting is all about highlighting issues that affect our audience, and looking after our mental health and wellbeing is so important. This season offers a comprehensive range of content around mental health and wellbeing, with people telling their own stories about dealing with mental health issues on TV, on national and local radio and online. We’ll also share and signpost practical advice and coping strategies to help audiences look after their mental health and seek help if they need to, and we’ll be making sure our own staff know about the help which is available to them.”

On television, there will be three personal films – Nadiya: Anxiety And Me for BBC One and for BBC Two, Alastair Campbell: Depression And Me; and David Harewood: Psychosis And Me. On BBC Two, the film Evelyn, from director Orlando von Einsiedel, about his family’s struggle with grief after the suicide of his brother, receives its network premiere.

On BBC One, Holby City will cover various mental health storylines amongst its characters, whilst Casualty will highlight the traumas and day to day struggles that A&E staff and paramedics face, and how these can lead to mental health issues.

With research showing that younger people are particularly susceptible to mental health problems, there is a wide range of digital content for younger audiences from BBC Three, BBC Learning and BBC Sport focused on common mental health challenges as well as social media activity providing practical tips and information.

On BBC Three a new film explores PTSD in young people and the rate of suicide among former and serving members of British armed forces in The War In My Head (w/t) – and later this year, Jesy Nelson, a member of the world’s biggest girl band Little Mix, will explore body image and mental health in a new documentary. Jesy Nelson: My Story (w/t) will look at how growing up in a social media-fuelled age of selfies, body shaming and trolling is having a profound impact on the mental health of young people.

On radio, Newsbeat is launching a new podcast series and there will be a series of Life Hacks with a mental health focus. Radio 2 will feature special programmes from Jeremy Vine, Pause For Thought and Good Morning Sunday; on Radio 4 The Archers will follow the story of Elizabeth’s depression, and Woman’s Hour will feature special interviews throughout the week.

On the Asian Network, Mobeen Azhar will present programmes across the week looking at a range of issues and BBC Local Radio has a host of initiatives across the regions, including debates and talks as well as group activities to try and combat loneliness.

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