Do documentaries, like Bedlam, help end mental health stigma?

Since the great Time to Change campaign was launched we have seen an increase on documentaries focussing on mental health issues.

Last night was the last in the series of Bedlam. Maudsley Hospital is the world’s oldest psychiatric institution and it opened its doors in a documentary series challenging the myths, taboos and stigma around mental illness in Britain today.

In the first episode we were allowed access into the lives of people struggling with severe anxiety and were able to see the sometimes extreme techniques professionals use to help those suffering from the illness. The second episode focussed on crisis. We were shown the short stay wards at the Maudsley which are run very much like an A&E Department but for mental illness. A lot of our clients don’t like to attend the A&E departments as they feel they are badly treated so you have to wonder why the system used at Maudsley hasn’t been rolled out across the country. The third episode focussed on psychosis and we were following the lives of people who were being cared for in the community, rather than been cooped up in psychiatric hospital with other unwell people. In the fourth and final episode ¬†we were back at Maudsley with inpatients in the over 65’s ward. The theme of the episode was breakdown and we saw the use of the still controversial treatment ECT (Electro-Convulsive Therapy). The documentary was interesting and informative, but do you think it helps reduce the stigma and myths surrounding mental health like it aimed to?

There have been other documentaries over the last year, with celebrities like Frank Bruno allowing the cameras to follow them to help the public gain an insight into the life of someone with a severe and enduring mental health problem. When Frank did a public appearance, he got nothing but a warm welcome which was nice to see.

But what do you think? Is the media coverage via documentaries is helping?