BBC1 The Accused: Mental health and bereavement
Did anyone watch the Accused on BBC1 last night?
The third episode in the latest series of Jimmy McGovern’s drama covered the issue of bereavement and mental health problems in young people.
Stephen, played by Robert Sheehan, is struggling to come to terms with immense grief after his mother passes away when just months later his father Peter, played by John Bishop, reveals he has a new girlfriend – the palliative nurse who cared for Stephen’s mother before she died.
Stephen’s grief and concerns about his dad’s new girlfriend Charlotte, played by Sheridan Smith, culminates in feelings of paranoia, anger issues and Stephen even believes that Alistair Campbell is trying to speak to him through the television to warn him about Charlotte.
Charlotte moves in with the family and Stephen tries to make an effort with her. But when the family dog dies in Charlotte’s care, and Stephen suffers stomach pains, he has flashbacks to Charlotte telling his mother how to administer her own pain relief, and starts to wonder whether Charlotte encouraged his mother to overdose to speed up her death so she could get closer to Peter.
He tries to talk to his brother Dom and girlfriend about his fears but no one believes Charlotte could do that and this exacerbates Stephen’s mental distress.
It results in Stephen leaving home but returning to protect his brother Dom as he in convinced Charlotte has been poisoning the family and in his anger he attacks her. He stands trial for attempted murder and insists he doesn’t want anyone representing him. He is sentenced and the episode ends with Charlotte visiting Stephen in prison. When he asks where his brother Dom and father are, she explains that they are both ‘ill’, leaving the viewers wondering whether his paranoia and fears were right all along and she was poisoning his mother and had tried to poison him and his brother too.
The episode was as hard hitting as you would expect from Jimmy McGovern and I thought it highlighted the link between a loss in the family and mental health problems really well. Sheehan acted the part of Stephen brilliantly and it demonstrated the reality that often young people who are distressed or who have mental health problems aren’t ‘believed’ because of their condition.
Did you watch The Accused? What did you think? Send us your views.
We often receive calls from parents concerned about their child following the loss of a family member and there is more information about support and advice here.
Parents can also call our Parents Helpline.