Mind's Senior Media Advisor Jenni Regan blogs on why Channel 4's 'Life on the Psych Ward did nothing to help challenge negative stereotypes of mental illness.
I watched the Channel 4 documentary ‘Life on the Psych Ward’ with excitement last night. I am a huge fan of what both the South London and Maudsley NHS and Channel 4 are doing to ‘lift the lid’ on mental health and was really interested in the idea that they were tackling the less appetising side of mental health: the forensic ward.
You say "schizophrenia", and people think of someone in food-stained clothes, running around wielding an axe, muttering to themselves. Say "depression", and they think of someone flung in bed with the curtains drawn, sobbing about everything.
You tell them you're a writer, let them experience your dry wit, show them photos of your dogs, talk about 80s rock music, and they think you're "normal."
I began blogging about life with bipolar and anxiety disorders this year. Previously, I felt I had to keep quiet about my main mental health condition for fear of stigma, judgement of other people in society. However, I am open about it to close friends and family and wanted to share my story with others through mental health charities such as Time to Change.
I’ve had very clear signs of depression since my early teens but it took me until the age of 30 to pluck up the courage to seek help from my GP. Despite having a good relationship with my family and friends, it’s never an easy subject to broach, regardless of how close we are. I still don’t especially enjoy talking about it with anyone in person, which is part of the reason why blogs are great!
Twenty-five years ago almost to the day I met a beautiful woman at a day centre for those living with mental health problems. I had been referred their due to my diagnosis of schizophrenia and was surprised to meet someone else with the same diagnosis; especially someone who glowed with life and could envision a future outside of the boundaries of the mental health system.