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Ian's breakdown - tackling mental health issues

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Nickie | 09:43 UK time, Wednesday, 23 May 2012

The past few months have not been easy for Ian - his finances in ruins, his volatile relationship with Mandy... not to mention her war with his daughter Lucy. But more than anything, it's the earth-shattering revelation that Ben killed Heather which has tipped the balance. Not to mention the pressure to keep Ben and Phil's terrible secret...

Suddenly, Ian's behaviour has become manic, volatile. He's a desperate man, who's on the edge, and those around him aren't reading the signs...

We spoke to Time To Change, an anti-stigma campaign, run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness,  which challenges attitudes and discrimination around mental health. They worked with EastEnders on the storyline and told us:

"1 in 4 of us will at some point have a mental illness, so it's much more common than people think. Lots of different characters in EastEnders have mental health issues - there's been the Stacey storyline and Jean's ongoing mental health issues.

And now it's happened to Ian - a businessman, a pillar of the community. It shows the variety of people and the different situations in which a mental health problem can occur - anyone can fall ill at any time. No one's exempt."

Time To Change worked closely with the show to ensure that the portrayal of Ian's situation was accurate.

"At every step we wanted to include people with actual experience of depression. We put the researchers and scriptwriters in touch with someone who had experience of what Ian was going through and he was really able to advise from a personal level to make sure that it was accurately done.This really helped to shape the character that we are starting to see on our screens."

We hope that an accurate portrayal of what it's like to have a mental health problem, showing that this can happen to any member of society such as a business man or a family man, just like Ian, will break down the barriers and help and eliminate the stigma and taboo around the issue."

Discover more about Time To Change's campaign

Find out more about the early signs of mental health problems


  • Comment number 1.

    Ian/Adam Woodyatt has been fantastic in this storyline thus far, I think it was great to pick someone the audience has known for years. Having been those 1 in 4, I hope the SL continues on and help others watching.

  • Comment number 2.

    Agreed @thatsgorg - it's a great performance. We've been gripped. It means a lot that it rings true to you.

  • Comment number 3.

    I think Adam Woodyatt(ian's actor) is doing a really good job at potraying ian while ians having a mental breakdown he's (ian) got so much stuff on his hands at the minute the cafes losing money,lucys being annoying & cancelled all his plans,mandy's mum has died,he's found out ben killed heather & he dosent have a bridesmaid so I think it's good there highlighting this issue.

  • Comment number 4.

    I too have had that whirlwind of a downward spiral, you dont realise how it happens until it is too late. I am glad EE are tackling it using the non stereotypical candidate, it would have been easiest for them to pin the storyline on Bianca (getting sectioned being her leaving plot) but they choose a great character. I admire their drive in the storyline and not just doing it quickly and then moving on. Well Done x

  • Comment number 5.

    i think its fantastic eastenders is playing this storyline especially the buildup to ians breakdown. I just hope eastenders plays what its like in hospital and can show the nation what it is like to be sectioned

  • Comment number 6.

    The characters who have portrayed the various faces of mental illness have always done so with respect and professionalism. Jean Slater is the queen of 'crazy' and is by far my favourite character. Ronnie Mitchell did her story justice (albeit, there were a lot of complaints aimed at the scriptwriters over that one). Stacy Slater, with her bipolar disorder. Nana Moon and Mo Butcher, both with alzheimers. Now Ian Beale is tackling the issue. Adam Woodyatt is doing a great job, but I have to say I am surprised Ian did not lose his mind years ago!

  • Comment number 7.

    that episode was absulotely epic! one of the best eastenders episodes i've seen a while and spectacular acting by everyone including roxy even though she did'nt speak and was only in it for a breif moment loved the ending!

  • Comment number 8.

    I think that Adam Woodyatt's performance last night was incredible, obviously a lot of research was done by the writers and actors to portray what so many people go through and how their family and friends react... Well done all! Hopefully the story line will evolve to show people how to get help and how to erase the stigma of mental illness

  • Comment number 9.

    I think Adam Woodyatt did a Fantastic job last night, the acting was fantastic. @Dazman, Totally agree. I really loved the look on Phils face when everyone was outside the Vic when Mandy had left him. I was waiting for Ian to tell everyone exactly what Ben and Phil did in the Queen Vic. He said ''I'll tell everyone what you and him did'' so its got everyone thinking now. :) Fantastic Job with the storyline.

  • Comment number 10.

    This episode portered MI very well. I suffer myself and have been waiting for this episode to be shown the build up to a mental breakdown was acted down to a tee and the end of this episode where Ian is walking down the street in barefoot broke my heart I actually cry every time I see this episode.
    Eastenders have had previous MI story's shown on their show which is brilliant and a big Thank you from everybody who does suffer with a MI for showing this and even considering to use MI as a storyline again the more people know the better then hopefully the awful Stigma will slowly go,
    Thank you


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