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Michael Portillo, Meera Syal and Terry Pratchett to front films about mental health for BBC Two


BBC Two announces three new documentaries for BBC Headroom, the BBC's two-year mental health and wellbeing initiative. The programmes will be presented by Michael Portillo, Terry Pratchett and Meera Syal, each tackling a subject matter that is of personal importance to them.

 

Michael Portillo: Death Of A School Friend (Liberty Bell Productions, 1 x 60-minutes) looks back to when Michael Portillo was at school and a close friend in his class killed himself.

 

Gary was a popular, clever student and a gifted musician, but just before his 16th birthday he committed suicide.

 

In detailed and moving interviews with Gary's parents and younger brother, Michael discovers how Gary's suicide and his family's enduring sense of loss has coloured their lives ever since.

 

Self Harm And Meera (BBC Vision, 1 x 60-minutes) is a sensitive film in which Meera Syal looks at the issue of self harm in the UK. It's a difficult and distressing subject and one that is close to Meera's heart.

 

In this moving journey she will seek to answer: what is self harm, who does it affect and why?

 

Meera meets victims, including those that have now recovered and others who are still suffering, and learns about the complicated issues that can lead to a person taking such drastic action.

 

Best-selling author, Terry Pratchett, is 59 years old and has recently been diagnosed as having early onset Alzheimer's disease.

 

Determined to prevent it if he possibly can, Terry Pratchett On Alzheimer's (IWC Media, 2 x 60-minutes) is a series charting his personal journey through the science and the reality of what it's like to be diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

 

The series follows Terry's race to find a cure as he endeavours to find ways of slowing, mitigating or even reversing its course.

 

These new commissions follow the recently broadcast Losing It, in which Griff Rhys Jones charted his issues with anger, and Cracking Up: Alastair Campbell On Breakdown (Sunday 12 October, BBC Two, 9.00pm), in which Alastair Campbell talked about the nervous breakdown he suffered in 1986, giving his first in depth account of this life-changing event, revisiting the people, places and landmarks of his breakdown and subsequent recovery.

 

Launched in May 2008, BBC Headroom is a two-year mental health and wellbeing project.

 

It aims to raise awareness of the importance of good mental health and de-stigmatise the problems surrounding the mental illness issues which face up to one in four of the population including anxiety, stress, depression and nervous breakdown.

 

Supporting the transmission of Cracking Up, BBC Headroom is launching a mental health action line – 08000 933 193 – which offers callers advice about where to get support if they, or someone they know, is going through a nervous breakdown or dealing with other mental health issues.

 

Notes to Editors

 

BBC Headroom is a cross-platform campaign from BBC Learning to encourage people to look after their mental health and wellbeing.

 

Headroom's main aim is to raise awareness of simple steps that people can take to help look after their own mental health and improve their lives.

 

Be it exam stress, relationship headaches, insomnia, anxiety or depression, Headroom will provide on-going support and information, as well as offering individuals the chance to share their experiences in a safe environment.

 

As well as its extensive online offering, the Headroom team take their practical advice on a tour in the Headroom Tent and undertake grassroots projects with local organisations such as libraries.

 

There is also be a range of on-air programming across BBC TV and radio, creating bespoke programmes or integrated contributions to ongoing series, both factual and drama.

 

08000 933 193 is a free phone number from a BT landline. Calls from other operators and mobile phone lines may incur a cost.

 

BBC Press Office

 

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Category: Factual & Arts TV; BBC Two; Learning
Date: 13.10.2008
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