4GoesMad: What it missed
The 4GoesMad season this week has covered OCD, the issue of mental health and employment, and obsessive compulsive hoarding. It has looked at some of the devastating effects of OCD, Ruby Wax’s battle with depression and revealing mental illness to employers at work.
With the offensive, sensationalist title of ‘4GoesMad’ and the repeated mention of ‘mental’ in the World’s Maddest Job Interview, there has, as expected, been the battle between sensitivity and reeling in viewers. Would as many people watched a season called ‘4 Looks at Mental Health’?
Tuesday’s A Little Bit OCD directly debunked the popular phrase ‘I’m a little bit OCD’ in reference to people who are actually just clean. The documentary delved into the disorder in a sensitive manner, with an in-depth look into what OCD is really like for sufferers. No one could have watched the programme and come away with anything less than an accurate understanding of the disorder. This documentary definitely did the job.
The World’s Maddest Job Interview broached the topic of employers hiring people with mental health problems, proving that they are just as capable as those without. There are many stigmas surrounding mental health, and this documentary did a good job at targeting one of them – that those with mental health problems are just as capable of working as those without. It may have gone about it in a slightly offensive way with odd editing and mentions of ‘mental’ in the narration, but the message came across loud and clear.
Last year’s documentary on compulsive hoarder Richard Wallace had a little bit of a freak-show vibe. Almost half of the program consisted of his neighbours saying how weird they thought he was, and he was depicted as a lonely outsider. This year’s documentary did little to salvage that, and ended
up being more of a DIY documentary and a battle of nastiest neighbour than a sensitive look at hoarding.
Hopefully a larger chunk of the nation will now refrain from saying they’re a little bit OCD when they’re clean, and that they ‘hoard’ when really they just have an over-spilling make-up drawer. It did nothing, however, to discourage the term ‘mental’, and missed out many other phrases that are bandied around, such as ‘panic attack’ and ‘hypochondriac’. Of course, the season couldn’t fit in a detailed documentary of every mental illness – but it could have touched on a few more. For example, anxiety disorder is a very prevalent mental health problem in the UK and wasn’t really touched upon.
The season briefly touched on one stigma linked to bipolar disorder – but there are many mental health problems that were left untouched. What about those who aren’t able to work, or less fortunate than Ruby and unable to check into The Priory? A week obviously isn’t enough time to cover everything – and although those with mental health problems often find it affects them in the workplace, there are plenty other places where discrimination exists, such as at school and amongst families.
The view that those with mental health problems are in any way weak, or just need to ‘get a grip’ still exists. Whilst the mental health season gave some insight into what it’s really like to live with a mental health problem, it’s likely that there can never be enough coverage to do justice to what one in four of us have to cope with every day.