bbc.co.uk
Home
Explore the BBC
You and Yours - Transcript
BBC Radio 4
Print This Page
TX: 19.04.05 - Mental Health

PRESENTER: WINIFRED ROBINSON
Downloaded from www.bbc.co.uk/radio4

THE ATTACHED TRANSCRIPT WAS TYPED FROM A RECORDING AND NOT COPIED FROM AN ORIGINAL SCRIPT. BECAUSE OF THE RISK OF MISHEARING AND THE DIFFICULTY IN SOME CASES OF IDENTIFYING INDIVIDUAL SPEAKERS, THE BBC CANNOT VOUCH FOR ITS COMPLETE ACCURACY.

ROBINSON
Mental ill health and feelings of isolation seem to go hand in hand perhaps because there's still so much stigma attached to mental illness and those who recover can be reluctant to share their experiences. Now a psychiatrist from Berkshire's hoping to change all that with a new television station, available free via the internet. It's called Mental Health TV and the programmes feature real patients discussing everything from electroconvulsive therapy or ECT to phobias. Claudia Hammond went to their base at Bray Studios in Berkshire to see how it all works.

ACTUALITY
We prefer this segment.

I prefer the segment - it's not such a nice looking shot.

HAMMOND
The staff at Mental Health TV putting the finishing touches to a programme on depression, new for their website this week. One of the people featured in the programme is Bill who became severely depressed 10 years ago.

BILL
I found myself in a situation where I had a family, fabulous wife and three great sons, and I was head hunted a lot and I think I was over working, over worrying and feeling guilty about not seeing my wife and family. Anyway to cut a very long story short I came to Waterloo Station one day and I had a breakdown. I sat in the chair and I thought - Who am I? Where am I going? Where have I been? - I couldn't tell you and I had to stop two policemen, who took me upstairs to the police room and got my address and sent for my wife.

HAMMOND
It's people just like Bill that Mental Health TV is aimed at by giving information and reassurance, as well as providing content for health professionals. Managing Editor Steve Connor showed me how it works.

CONNOR
Basically it is a television channel, it's designed to be as simple as possible - just to watch the programmes. There's plenty of other content on the web about mental health so we're just designed to have a very simple site that focuses on the programmes itself and getting to the right programme as quickly as possible. On the home page there's a list of categories on the left, we cater for everyone from students to lecturers, psychiatrists etc.

HAMMOND
So then you click on which you are if you're looking?

CONNOR
Yes, so service user - click on service user, then programmes on the left, will bring up a list of programmes that we have for service users.

HAMMOND
I see there's all sorts of things here, [indistinct word] information like ECT.

CONNOR
The ECT one's very good because it's something that people don't get to see very often, where this is actually showing someone going through it and saying how positive it is.

HAMMOND
And then you've got a controversial look at the new Mental Health Bill, a short film about stigma in mental illness and I notice there phobia - a case study. Presumably the case studies are popular.

CONNOR
It is and this one's a very good one - the woman being featured had a phobia of birds that affected her whole life.

CLIP
I'd go on holiday and I sat on beaches and - because I just cannot, I can't [indistinct words] ...

HAMMOND
So how did you find this lady to talk about her phobia of birds?

CONNOR
She was a patient that had come into the clinic and she was quite happy to kind of film all of her sessions and certainly coming through at the end of it, which Rita does at the end of this programme very well.

HAMMOND
So she's actually stroking a bird here.

ACTUALITY
Well done Rita. Look at that.

This is the best thing that's ever happened to me, it really is.

HAMMOND
I mean that is such a powerful film, isn't it, and at the end there she actually had an owl sitting on her hand and the other guy took the owl from her and she sort of stroked it quite fondly as if she actually liked it.

CONNOR
A particularly remarkable recovery. It's very, very dramatic and very powerful.

HAMMOND
Now is there a danger that obviously not everyone does make such a good recovery, I mean are you choosing the stories where people do?

CONNOR
Not particularly, the idea of the programmes is to really show that there is a route through, although not being too unrealistic that there is a happy ending every time.

HAMMOND
And what sort of feedback have you had from people so far?

CONNOR
Very positive so far. I mean we've got a forum on the site and people are free to e-mail us and in fact people have been e-mailing us with their stories so some of them will be taking part, which is something we're very interested in.

HAMMOND
The creator of Mental Health TV, psychiatrist Andrew Macaulay spent years looking for a way to demystify psychiatry. And then along came the internet.

MACAULAY
The beauty of internet broadcasting is that it is cheap, at a stroke the distribution costs have gone to zero. And we've been looking quite carefully about how to charge for this because I mean ultimately bills have to be paid and some of the programmes we've paid for by subscription and sponsorship and a certain amount of advertising.

HAMMOND
And will the content stay free to members of the public?

MACAULAY
Absolutely, the service user side will always be free for anyone who comes across the site they can have a look and watch the programmes.

HAMMOND
Of course not everyone has access to the internet, or to the high speed links needed to watch videos. But despite this Dr Macaulay is delighted with the initial interest they've had and is convinced that it's because it features real people telling their own stories.

MACAULAY
There's no substitute for letting the patients and their families tell the story themselves, that's far more powerful than hearing some expert explaining in rather dry language about the sort of minutiae of the condition.

HAMMOND
And is there a danger with some of your patients that they might feel they kind of ought to help because then you'll give them preferential treatment or ..?

MACAULAY
One's always sensitive to the notion of coercion and hidden pressure and however - what we do is we'll record the interviews to start with, then leave it for a little while, come back to them and say well are you still happy and then when we've got the finished programme show them that, so I hope there is an element of informed consent and at any point along the way they can change their mind and a few patients have done that and that's fine.

BILL
You know I had to choose the Jubilee Line instead of the Northern Line because the Jubilee Line's got glass gates that you can't jump under the train. But when I thought about it I could take the right line on the underground but there was some seconds when you didn't get to think through to the consequences - in that fraction of a second you could just ...

HAMMOND
And watching himself in the latest film on depression Bill for one is glad to have taken part.

BILL
I wanted them to know that I wasn't a mental case, I wanted them to know that I hadn't lost the power of thought, deduction or whatever, I want them to know what depression was because my children were frightened of it, didn't really want to speak to me because they didn't know how to handle me. And my wife, god bless her, began to treat me like a patient. And so I needed more information from them, so that they could understand to help me but if they had seen - if they could see a film, if they saw another man having depression and in tears it would help them handle me.

ROBINSON
Bill, ending that report by Claudia Hammond. And you can find more information about Mental Health TV on our website.

Back to the You and Yours homepage

The BBC is not responsible for external websites

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy