Taking on the last great taboo

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The Independent Culture
There's nothing appealing about mental illness - no easy-to-relate- to aspect that makes it a popular subject for debate - which is why it has gone unchampioned, under-funded and little discussed for so long.

BBC2's "States of Mind" season is therefore very welcome and long-overdue, tackling as it does mental health issues from every perspective.

Programmes in this extensive series have already included studies of historic attitudes and developments in the field (The Asylum War), real- life experiences (Minders), celebrity mental health debate with celebrity analyst Dr Anthony Clare, and Mike McShane's Screen Two version of his life.

Tonight, schizophrenia is up for discussion, from a youth point of view. Go Back Out (9.30pm BBC2) is the first drama to be produced by BBC North's youth department, and centres on the experiences of Ian (Andrew Lancel).

The fact that its half-hour format doesn't suceed in challenging "the fear, prejudice and misunderstanding" surrounding the illness is not crucial. (Soap fans gain a few "where are they now?" answers, as it stars both Anita Dobson and Nicola Stephenson - Margaret from Brookside, who should have helped Anita on the accent front.) This is a rare case in which the subject is more important than the end result, and BBC2's concerted effort to raise the profile of mental health issues bravely confronts one of the last great taboos.