Quarter of viewers with mental health problems seek help after watching mental health storylines on TV

Mind asked 2000 adults about the impact of soap and drama storylines on their attitudes to mental health

Jess Denham
Wednesday 27 April 2016 12:56
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Maisie Williams struggled with mental health problems as Casey in Cyberbully
Maisie Williams struggled with mental health problems as Casey in Cyberbully

A quarter of TV viewers suffering from mental health problems have been prompted to seek help after following mental health storylines, according to a new poll by mental health charity Mind.

The survey asked over 2,000 British adults how soap and drama storylines affected their attitudes to mental illness, with just over half of those surveyed saying that watching a plot involving a character with mental health problems had helped improve their understanding.

One in three men with personal experience of a mental health problem were more likely to be moved to find professional help and support after watching a relatable character, compared to just 15 per cent of women.

Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, said: “These statistics show just how powerful all forms of media can be in encouraging people to go and see their GP, call a helpline or just get in touch with a friend or family member with a mental health problem.

“Media portrayals and reporting, when done well, can be a lifeline. Drama storylines in particular can help people who might be struggling to feel less alone and they play a vital role in signposting to the help and support that is available.”

Farmer went on to praise media coverage that offers a “sensitive, compelling and realistic” representation of mental health, urging journalists and programme-makers to continue “showing people with mental health problems as a whole” and giving them a platform to share their experiences.


The Mind Media Awards, which celebrate the best examples of mental health portrayal in media, opens for entries today. The judging panel is made up of media industry experts, many of whom have personal experience of mental health problems.

Maisie Williams, who starred in Mind Media Awards winner Cyberbully last year, revealed that after it aired, the anti-bullying line saw a “massive influx in calls” from young people who had previously been too frightened to speak out.

“No one is going to judge you, there are people out there who want to help you,” she said. “I hope that is the message people get from a series like Cyberbully.”

Winners of the Mind Media Awards will be announced at an event at the Troxy on Monday 14 November.

Mind has a confidential information and support line, Mind Infoline, available on 0300 123 3393. Lines are open from 9am to 6pm from Monday to Friday.

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