July 9, 2013

AmandaThe third and final episode of ‘Don’t Call Me Crazy’, part of ‘It’s A Mad World’ season on BBC Three, aired last night documenting the plight of patients on the McGuiness unit in Manchester.

The series has followed a range of people with varying mental health illnesses from depression and an eating disorder to psychosis and OCD.

The McGuiness unit is one of many adolescent units across the country that provides specialist care with an acute wing for patients who are most distressed.

Last night’s episode focused on two males, both hearing voices, who had been admitted to the ward.

As a young person who has suffered mental illnesses such as depression, anorexia and self-harm I have been gripped from the first episode.

Initially I felt uneasy about the programme

During my teenage years I was also crippled by my illnesses and was admitted to a specialist unit specifically for eating disorders. Initially I felt triggered and uneasy about what the programme was actually trying to achieve. I feared it wasn’t showing young people with mental health difficulties in a very good light. But after viewing the 3 part documentary I think it has been successful in revealing how life can be like if you suffer from a mental illness. How symptoms vary with each illness and how it affects people’s lives.

One in 10 young people will experience mental health problems and 3500 young people will be admitted to units each year. The documentary aims to reveal what it is like ‘on the inside’ and how the 9 in 10 young people perceive the young people on the inside.

Last night’s episode focused on young men

Last night’s episode focused on young men with mental health problems. There is stigma surrounding men with mental illnesses as they are less likely to seek help and will often get to a crisis point. At the McGuiness unit there are 2 girls to every boy.

Matty, a 17 year old admitted with severe depression and psychotic episodes, hears voices that tell him he will be killed on his 18th birthday. The voices have become so severe and damaging that he has attempted suicide.

Another male who was admitted was George, a 16 year old rugby player also with severe depression. George’s dad travelled to the McGuiness unit from Essex as George has a scholarship at a boarding school in Cumbria following his passion of rugby. The programme shows it’s not just someone who experiences mental illness that are affected it is the family and friends who are also affected by it, seeing loved ones at the point of despair they want to take their own lives is very distressing.

I don’t think 'Dont Call Me Crazy' could have survived as a one off documentary

The ward implements varying therapies to help patients. Group therapy aims to engage patients through art or dance to explore their thoughts and feelings. The programme also shows how they review the patient’s mental health state, as and when to give them home leave for integration with the triggering ‘outside world’.

I don’t think ‘Dont Call Me Crazy’ could have survived as a one off documentary, and speaking to a friend we agree how important it is to see that life is not all doom and gloom people can leave the ward relatively happy and stable.

The series for me has highlighted how sporadic and different mental health services are across the country. What I would like to see is follow on episodes with care in the community with CMHT or a programme highlighting the difficulty of transition between child and adolescent services to adult services as Matty experienced. I find these are the key areas mental health care in Britain, where it’s most flawed and needs serious attention - the work in these units can be quickly undone as soon as young people are discharged, or before admittance to a unit.

‘Don’t Call Me Crazy’ is very poignant

To conclude ‘Don’t Call Me Crazy’ is very poignant. Breaking down the ‘them and us’ mentality and changing the stereotypes is crucial to end stigma and discrimination amongst young people. We all have mental health, we are ill not crazy. We are unwell just like a broken hand that can be temporary or diabetes that will remain with us for the rest of our lives but can be monitored and controlled. As Beth from the documentary said: “Why hide something that makes me unique”.

What do you think about the issues raised in this blog?

Share your views with us on Twitter >>

Or sign our pledge wall to show your support and find out how talking tackles mental health discrimination.

Share your story

Too many people are made to feel ashamed. By sharing your story, you can help spread knowledge and perspective about mental illness that could change the way people think about it.