1 in 5 soap fans realised mental health problems as a result of storylines

It’s been revealed that one in five fans of soaps and dramas have realised they have mental health problems after watching storylines featuring them.

Shows with characters experiencing depression, anxiety and panic attacks are helping people to tackle their own problems, according to new research from Mind.

The charity carried out research during the second lockdown across the UK, finding that 22% of people who saw a mental health storyline realised that they had a problem of their own.

Meanwhile, 18% of them went on to look for help online and 12% sought help for their mental health from a medical professional.

It’s an ever bigger stat among younger viewers, with 38% of people aged 18-24 realising they had experience of mental health problems after seeing a soap or drama.

Some of the biggest storylines from recent times have revolved around mental health.

Coronation Street highlighted the issue of male suicide in May last year after Shayne Ward’s character Aidan Connor took his own life. The soap also depicted Carla Connor’s (Alison King) severe psychotic episode last year.

More recently, EastEnders is focusing on the aftermath of the sexual abuse suffered by Mick Carter (Danny Dyer) as a child.

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, said: ‘It has never been more important for broadcasters to create accurate, sensitive storylines about mental health.

‘This year, lockdowns and restrictions have meant that people are watching more TV than ever, and a huge number of us are seeing soaps and dramas featuring mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. At a time when it’s harder to see loved ones and look after our own mental health, these stories are helping people to recognise when they’re struggling and prompting them to seek help.’

He added: ‘It’s clear from this research that mental health storylines are popular and broadcasters are committed to making them. We now need to see more air time given to conditions such as schizophrenia, psychosis and post-natal depression which are still stigmatised and poorly understood.’

For more information head to Mind.org.uk

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