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Mental Health

45 minutes
First broadcast:
Saturday 09 June 2012

One in three of us will be affected by mental illness during our lifetime.
What is it like to suffer from that most common mental illness, depression? Antipodean artist and writer Matthew Johnstone characterised it as a black dog, in a bestselling picture book he wrote about his experiences.
What can be done to help the millions of sufferers worldwide who never see a trained professional and often encounter discrimination and abuse? Indian Psychiatrist Vikram Patel discusses the challenge of promoting global mental health.
And what can we learn from methods used to help people who have committed violent crimes while suffering from mental illness? Broadmoor psychotherapist Gwen Adshead explains how she helps her patients begin to heal.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel: the disturbing stories inside our minds


4 items
  • Vikram Patel

    Vikram Patel

    Vikram Patel is at the forefront of a campaign to promote global mental health. A psychiatrist from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, he advises the Indian government on mental health policy. He’s also set up his own NGO in Goa, which pioneers ways to treat mental health problems in places with few resources, a theme he has also addressed in his book ‘Where There is No Psychiatrist’.

    Patel: Where There is no Psychiatrist
  • Matthew Johnstone

    Matthew Johnstone

    Matthew Johnstone, an artist and writer based in Sydney, battled depression for years, alongside a successful advertising career. In his bestselling illustrated book I Had a Black Dog, Johnstone used the character of a black Labrador to communicate his experience. He now works part time as the Creative Director of the Black Dog Institute in Australia.

    Johnstone: Black Dog Books
  • Matthew Johnstone illustration 1

    Matthew Johnstone illustration 1

    Credit: I Had a Black Dog by Matthew Johnstone

    For more information about mental health please see the BBC Health webpage which you can find in the links at the top of this page.

  • Matthew Johnstone illustration 2

    Matthew Johnstone illustration 2

    Credit: I Had a Black Dog by Matthew Johnstone

  • Matthew Johnstone illustration 3

    Matthew Johnstone illustration 3

    Credit: I Had a Black Dog by Matthew Johnstone

  • Gwen Adshead

    Gwen Adshead

    Gwen Adshead is a forensic psychiatrist and psychotherapist at Broadmoor, Britain’s highest security institution for offenders with mental disorders, well known in Britain because it’s where the country’s most notorious killers are sent if the court declares them ‘criminally insane.’ She believes that learning to re-order and retell your own story is the key to getting to grips with all sorts of mental illness.

    Adshead: Desert Island Discs

    Artist and writer Matthew Johnstone wants us to have a dedicated time and place to worry. Once a day, all our screens would go blank and the message ‘Time to Worry’ would be displayed. For ten minutes, you would be alone with your worries. You must think your worst; embrace your fears. But when the time is up, you must put them aside and get on with your day. We all have dark thoughts, but if we were able to stay with them in this way they would lose their power over us.

  • Next week:

    We explore how we make connections, in our own minds, and in our economic choices. Can we really map every neural connection in the brain? And what will it tell us about the way we think? With Thomas Friedman, Sebastian Seung and Paul Ormerod.


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