Mental health goes prime time on Channel 4
Guest blogger Jessica Brown is looking forward to Channel 4's new series of programmes to tackle mental health stigma this summer. It will include two documentaries, presented by comedians Ruby Wax and Jon Richardson.
Channel 4 has long tackled mental health stigmas with its documentaries - but '4 Goes Mad' looks set to face it head-on, wholeheartedly and completely - and it's about time. This season has the potential to help set a precedent for bold, brave and full-on coverage for mental health on prime time television.
Ruby Wax, who famously suffers from depression, will follow a number of workers as they disclose their mental health conditions to their employers. She asks: "Why is it that every other organ can get sick and you get sympathy except the brain? Stigma is the real illness and it's at its worst in the workplace."
Jon Richardson will meet people suffering with OCD, to determine if he is just a perfectionist or suffers from it himself. He says: "The over-simplistic treatment of OCD for comedy is a huge bugbear of mine… I'm looking forward to tackling the uninformed abandon with which the term is bandied about."
The season will also include the flagship show, 4 Goes Mad, where eight potential employees – some with mental health conditions – will be given a set of challenges in front of a panel of employers.
With mental health and employment, there is a lot of improvement to be made – both from employer perceptions and employees knowing their rights. The season looks to feature this issue quite heavily, which will hopefully bring reassurance to a lot of viewers going through something similar. Personally, this is what I’m looking forward to the most, as there seems to be a lack of understanding and a lot of ambiguity around mental health and employers. This documentary looks set to prove that those suffering with mental health problems are equally capable of work – and if this alters the mindset of one employer, Channel 4 has succeeded.
This direct approach to mental health will help younger generations as they grow older – deep-seated taboos being addressed by major broadcasters is a promising sign. Hopefully, this will help to unite despondent viewers with a wider audience to promote awareness and hope amongst mental health and employment.