Kevin Shepherd, supporter of Time to Change, England's biggest mental health anti-stigma programme run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, writes:

When I was contacted by Time to Change about advising a TV series with an upcoming mental health story line I never imagined it would turn out to be EastEnders!

Contact was quickly made with the research team and many emails and phone calls were exchanged, the outcome of which was the Ian Beale breakdown story. My input was welcomed and I quickly realised that this was going to be something I could really help with; I could draw on my own experiences and do my bit to make sure that Ian's illness was portrayed accurately and as far as possible, realistic and believable.

Mental illness is a massive umbrella covering a vast array of different diagnoses. One of the biggest challenges in creating awareness of mental health issues is breaking down the stereotypical way people think when confronted with the term "mental illness" and Ian's breakdown is just one of so many different ways that the illness can manifest itself. My personal experience is of a mental breakdown and anxiety/depressive disorder and I could really empathise with the story.

Right from the start of my illness I was advised to start a blog, being as open and honest as I could, I was told it could prove to be very therapeutic, and it was. I wrote as often as I could - the good, the bad, and the indifferent. Eventually I plucked up the courage to share the blog with a few close friends and eventually it became even more public. Some of the entries (especially the very early ones) are quite painful to look back on, but that was me at the time, that was my life, and it helps me when I am having a bad day to look back and see where I was then and how far I have come since those dark horrible days.

One of my blog entries recalls an episode where I was walking along a dual carriageway completely lost and in total despair. As you can imagine I found it very tough to watch Ian do a very similar walk in the episode when his breakdown completely hit. I have to say that Adam Woodyatt who plays Ian played the part superbly well, the whole build up was acted brilliantly and the exit was outstanding in my opinion. Having seen some of the comments on social media sites it was also widely praised for being both moving and realistic.

My experience of helping out with the story was enormously positive, the people I was in contact with were superb and could not have been more supportive and understanding of the issues which they were portraying.

What next for Ian? Well, you will have to wait and see. I just hope that in some small way I have managed to do a little bit to make people see that mental health issues can affect anyone at any time and if this venture encourages just one or two people to challenge their pre-conceptions regarding mental health issues I will consider it a massive success.

Tagged with:

Comments

This entry is now closed for comments.

  • Comment number 14. Posted by dazman

    on 13 Aug 2012 06:20

    Maybe he bites his nails?

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 14: 0
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 14: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 13. Posted by Nightowl92

    on 12 Aug 2012 20:34

    Why are his hands so clean - they should be a dirty as the rest of him and his finger nails are not just clean but really short.....after living rough he wouldn't have hands and nails like that!

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 13: 0
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 13: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 12. Posted by corriefan2

    on 7 Aug 2012 22:24

    Well Pat, I must say that in a soap generally devoid of all things humerous, Kim makes me laugh.

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 12: 0
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 12: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 11. Posted by pat field

    on 5 Aug 2012 20:55

    Ian looks like someone from Central Casting but even more totally implausible is that his 'friends'would take him home like that!! For Lucy to cope with?? Worse than the shockingly self-indulgent tripe from Cora (Kora). This character is totally dislikeable and in too many scenes. Still, nothing will touch the utterly toe-curling character of Denise's sister!

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 11: 0
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 11: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 10. Posted by blog123

    on 5 Aug 2012 03:44

    If you ask me we never saw things get that bad for Ian that he would disappear for a few months be homeless then return not being able to talk because he was that messed up in the head ??? very far fetched if you ask me If the storyline was done better it might of been more believable

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 10: 0
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 10: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 9. Posted by mike_pilgrim

    on 4 Aug 2012 12:48

    Ian looks sexy! Why he aint speak no Anglasi ?

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 9: 0
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 9: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 8. Posted by Melanie

    on 3 Aug 2012 17:22

    Ian needs to shave his beard!!!

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 8: 0
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 8: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 7. Posted by yassy12344321

    on 3 Aug 2012 16:45

    This is such a facinating thing on eastenders! Wonder how it would feel like to be a tramp!? :)

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 7: 0
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 7: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 6. Posted by babamaman

    on 2 Aug 2012 20:30

    Thank goodness for "catchup"...what with having my grandson staying with me and the olympics...there is no way I can watch endrs in peace....so wonderful wonderful catchup....all is quiet...just about to watch tonights episode.....ssssshhhhhhhhhhh

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 6: 0
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 6: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 5. Posted by lizzy Wilks

    on 2 Aug 2012 19:34

    I can remember watching eastender's in 1986 and seeing Arthur Fowler have a mental breakdown on Christams 86,he swiped everything in the living room. Adam Woodyatt has portrayed Ian very well and I think it would be very hard to do something likr that so well done Adam :)

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 5: 0
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 5: 0
    Loading…
More comments

More Posts

Previous

Next