The power of soap operas with mental health stories

We are constantly reminded that 1 in 4 of us will experience some sort of mental health issue every year. Here in England they say women are almost twice as likely to suffer from anxiety as men. It’s also estimated that 1 in 6 people in the past week experienced some sort of mental health issue. With all this in mind, you would think it would make people open up and speak about how they feel, but it’s sad to say that isn’t the case.

Something that is increasing here in the UK is mental health stories in our soaps. You think the amount of people that tune in every night to watch their favourite characters, it’s millions! Then there’s social media being so popular, you can upload clips from TV episodes onto their social media pages, that could reach even more people that don’t watch the soaps.

Hollyoaks are delivering realistic storylines regarding people with mental health issues. They are continuing the online campaign called “Don’t Filter Feelings”, to encourage people to talk about how many of us feel we have to wear a filter to make it look like we’re coping with our problems, but what we should be doing is removing the filter, and being honest with our feelings. There was a recent storyline when a character died as a result of sepsis after self-harming. The #DontFilterFeelings hashtag is still being used as to remind people about being honest with how their feeling.

Soap characters are making it feel normal to discuss conditions like anxiety and depression, this allows the viewers to feel less alone. When we see these characters going through and talking about their mental health issues, hopefully it makes people feel that we’re not alone after all, and might give the viewer confidence to seek help. Think about it, if a soap character can get the help they need, then why can’t I?

Coronation Street. Their most successful storyline was when a character ended his life because he refused to speak to anyone about how he was feeling. That received a lot of praise and it meant the charity “CALM” had to take on more staff with the massive rise in phone calls after the episode had finished. These soap storylines are as accurate as they can be, which means the storyline can occur over quite a few episodes.

Casualty aired a special episode that looked at a paramedics mental health recovery after he tried to end his life back in February. This particular storyline started in August 2018, and when the special episode was shown, some viewers moaned on social media that the storyline had been on for too long. In my opinion this is typical of the stigma surrounding mental health. If anyone has a bit of knowledge on the subject will know just how long someone can suffer in silence! It can take a very long time to accept that you are mentally unwell.

Eastenders character “Sean Slater” came back into the soap, and was saved by his mother (who is bipolar along with Sean’s sister) just before he was going to blow his brains out. This actor spoke in an interview after the show and he said: “if 1% of the audience spoke out after Sean’s story, it would save a lot of lives.

These few soaps I’ve mentioned are really hitting it home regarding mental health. There’s more shows out there I no, but these are a few of the main shows that the majority of the public watch. I don’t know what this weeks been like where you, my fellow bloggers live regarding mental health, but here in the UK it’s been in the media and on TV most of the time. 😊👍

5 thoughts on “The power of soap operas with mental health stories

  1. I don’t watch a ton of TV, but I do watch. I don’t think there are any, if few, roles that involve mental health. Robin on Chicago Med was diagnosed as having a mental illness because she was hearing things. Turns out she had some kind of tumor that affected the part of her brain that controls hearing so, what a relief it wasn’t mental illness. I stopped watching that show! Haha!

    Liked by 1 person

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