In The Mind - BBC's 'most ambitious mental health project ever'

On 15th February, BBC One kicked off a two week season of dedicated mental health programming with In The Mind.

Exploring mental health across news, drama, documentaries and features, highlights included The Not So Secret Life of the Manic Depressive: Ten Years On, featuring Mind's President, Stephen Fry; My Baby, Psychosis and Me, exploring experiences of postpartum psychosis, and an airing of Mind Media Award winner Angela Samata’s moving documentary, Life After Suicide.

It’s been a great opportunity to get more people talking about mental health and to create more understanding around it. 

Follow Mind on Twitter and join the conversation with #InTheMind

 

 

"It’s been quite a week, hasn’t it?" BBC producer, David Brown, looks back on In The Mind's first week. 

How has it been for you? ‘In the Mind’ took to the air on Sunday – and it’s been quite a week, hasn’t it? You’ll be a better judge of what’s been achieved than me, but I’ve had the feeling all this week – of mental health taking its rightful place in the national spotlight. What a joy that is to see.

‘In the Mind’ has gone – literally – from Kidderminster to Kabul.

I’m not sure it’s possible for one person to have watched, read and listened to everything: from ‘The Not So Secret Life of the Manic Depressive: 10 Years On’, to ‘My Baby, Psychosis and Me’, from the One Show, to 5 Live and the World Service, BBC local radio, Inside Out, PM on BBC Radio 4, BBC News on Facebook – I could go on. ‘In the Mind’ has gone – literally – from Kidderminster to Kabul.

Have there been stresses along the way? Yup. Have they taken years off my life? My doctor won’t say. Have there been times when I thought: ‘whose dumb idea was this?’ You bet. Luckily – I am blessed with some of the most wonderful colleagues – among them my friend and fellow producer Gabby O’Donnell – who has saved me from meltdown on more occasions than I care to remember.

"The goal was understanding, compassion and kindness. I hope some of that has come through."

 

And many of the things I’ve seen this week in my home base – the BBC News at Six and Ten -- will live long in the memory. Who could forget Steve Mallen, father of Edward who took his own life 

Who could forget Steve Mallen, father of Edward who took his own life almost exactly a year ago? Or eight year old Samuel – recovering from PTSD – his story told by Fergal Keane? Or Fergus Walsh holding – with respect and gratitude – a real human brain to explain the latest on neuroscience? Or Fiona Bruce with pointed question after pointed question for David Cameron, in almost certainly the first proper interview by any serving British Prime Minister on mental health?

almost exactly a year ago? Or eight year old Samuel – recovering from PTSD – his story told by Fergal Keane? Or Fergus Walsh holding – with respect and gratitude – a real human brain to explain the latest on neuroscience? Or Fiona Bruce with pointed question after pointed question for David Cameron, in almost certainly the first proper interview by any serving British Prime Minister on mental health?

"...above all our brave contributors – who’ve done the hardest yards."

Has everything been to everyone’s taste? That never happens. Did we get the story selection right? I hope so. The goal was understanding, compassion and kindness. I hope some of that has come through.

There is – of course -- more to come – as the BBC drama and documentary part of the season looks towards a second week. So please keep watching, listening and reading.

I’ve had some of the kindest messages I’ve ever received whilst working on ‘In the Mind’. But honestly -- it’s the hundreds of others: producers, camera people, correspondents, VT editors, graphic designers – and above all our brave contributors – who’ve done the hardest yards. To them – and to you – I feel gratitude beyond words.

David Brown is Senior Producer, BBC News at 6 & 10. He’s worked on BBC One news bulletins for 12 years, editing programmes and producing live coverage with presenters George Alagiah and Huw Edwards.

Twitter: @davidxxbrown

The Not So Secret Life of the Manic Depressive: 10 Years On

First aired 9pm, Monday 15th February, BBC One

Ten years since Stephen Fry’s The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive started a national conversation about mental health, The Not So Secret Life of the Manic Depressive: 10 Years On looks at the experiences of Stephen and others with bipolar now. 

View our information on bipolar, for advice on how you can help you or someone you know cope, and where to find support. 

Stephen Fry and the other contributors showed the guilt and shame people can feel around their mental illness.

Read Paul Scate's review of The Not So Secret Life of the Manic depressive: 10 Years On. 

The One Show - Stacey from EastEnders postpartum psychosis story

Interview with EastEnders actress Lacey Turner and Executive Producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins about the EastEnders' character Stacey's postpartum psychosis storyline. Mind's media team and volunteers were involved in creating Stacey's story. Read more about it and view blogs and vlogs from some of our volunteers with experience of postpartum psychosis who helped shape the story. 

Watch on BBC iPlayer

My Baby, Psychosis and Me

Aired 10:45pm Tuesday 16th February BBC One

My Baby, Psychosis and Me reveals the journey of two mums and their experience of postpartum psychosis.  

Filmed over six months, and suported by the character Stacey Branning's experience of postpartum psychosis in EastEnders, it closely follows the experiences of Jenny and Hannah, and their families, as they are cared for at Winchester’s Mother and Baby Unit.

From the bedroom to the nursery, the hospital theatre to the psychiatrist’s chair – we watch the most personal moments of motherhood play out for Jenny and Hannah, as Dr Gregoire and his team provide Jenny and Hannah the help they desperately need. 

Watch on BBC iPlayer 

Please take care if you think it might be triggering. 

 

 

Life After Suicide

Aired at 10.45pm on Wednesday 17th February BBC One

Winner of the 2015 Mind Media Award Factual TV, Life After Suicide is based on personal accounts, and sees Angela Samata explore why some people choose to take their own life and the impact of suicide on those left behind. When suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50, why are we so afraid to talk about it? Watch clips from Life After Suicide.

View our information on coping with suicidal feelings for practical suggestions on where you can go for help. See our guide on supporting someone who feels suicidal for tips on helping someone else or view our crisis services guide for information on the services available.

Watch on BBC iPlayer 

Please take care if you think it might be triggering. 

Was it worth going back to those painful early days to make the film? I always said that if sharing our story helps one person, then it’s all been worth it. If it reminds people that there are real lives behind the data, then it’s been worth it. If it challenges the stigma that many of us have felt, it’s been worth it and If just one person reaches out for support after watching Life After Suicide, it’s been worth it.

Read Angela Samata's blog for Mind about the impact of 'Life After Suicide'.

Professor Green: Suicide & Me

11:45pm
Thursday 18th February
BBC One

Male suicide has been called a silent epidemic, with the latest UK figures revealing that suicide accounts for nearly 5,000 male deaths a year, around four times that of suicide in women. In this thought-provoking documentary, UK rapper Professor Green takes an intensely personal journey to uncover the truth behind the suicide of his father - and why suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 in Britain.

View our information on coping with suicidal feelings for practical suggestions on where you can go for help. See our guide on supporting someone who feels suicidal for tips on helping someone else or view our crisis services guide for information on the services available.

Why is the BBC attempting its 'most ambitious mental health project ever'? David Brown of the BBC talks to Mind.

Very few ideas can’t be delivered on one side of A4 – and that’s how this one began last Autumn. No one could have anticipated how a one page memo would grow into the most ambitious mental health project ever attempted by BBC One and BBC News. 

In the Mind is aiming to put mental health in the national spotlight as never before. For my home base, the BBC News at Six and the BBC News at Ten, that means a series of special reports from February 15th. They’ll be on NHS provision, neuroscience, changing social attitudes and more. 

Others across BBC News – are pursuing a huge variety of related themes and you should see and hear them popping up on TV, radio and online.

I get asked – why now?

There are three great things about mental health for me:

  • First, there’s a huge amount untapped content – accessible for the first time as some of the stigma around mental health crumbles – and people feel able to speak out.
  • Second, there’s a connection with the audience which is almost universal.
  • And third, particularly for the BBC, there’s great public service value in explaining and exploring one of the great themes of our time.

Will we leave things out? For sure. Will we cover a lot of ground? I hope so. And when we roll in the drama and other parts of the project -- including EastEnders, Stephen Fry’s remarkable contribution, and Angela Samata’s stunning ‘Life After Suicide’, I think we’ll have a powerful mix.

Much could still go wrong. Will an enormous breaking news story push us down the news agenda? Will be there be technical failure? Is the plan good enough? These are the questions keeping me awake at night. But if all goes well, we’ll reach millions of people in the UK – and through the BBC World Service – maybe even hundreds of millions around the globe.

So watch out for us, from February 15th please.

Some of the contributors you’ll see in our reports are among the bravest people I’ve come across. Their stories of hope and light shine like the sun. We’re a cynical bunch in TV News, but I can honestly say, I’ve never felt luckier having a hand in bringing them to the screen.

 

David Brown is Senior Producer, BBC News at 6 & 10. He’s worked on BBC One news bulletins for 12 years, editing programmes and producing live coverage with presenters George Alagiah and Huw Edwards.

Twitter: @davidxxbrown

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