Priory expert praises Soap mental illness storylines

Priory expert, Dr Richard Bowskill, praises several soaps including Emmerdale, Eastenders and Coronation Street for their credible mental health storylines that may change the attitudes towards mental illness.

Emmerdale producers have won praise for tackling mental health issues in a current storyline featuring one of the soap's major characters; Zak Dingle. Since Zak Dingle violently attacked his own son, the programme has seen him drinking heavily and suffering from anxiety attacks. The last few weeks have seen his condition become more and more concerning. Not being able to come to terms with his obvious mental decline, Zak tried to put his health concerns down to the return of his testicular cancer. His family are also finding it difficult to come to terms with his mental illness.

Another soap, Eastenders' teen Lauren Branning, is involved in a binge-drinking storyline during which she has put both her health and her personal safety at risk.

Coronation Street has also recently highlighted the very difficult subject of early on-set dementia in its storyline surrounding Eileen Grimshaw and her relationship with fireman Paul Kershaw and his wife Lesley.  Weatherfield is already home to alcoholic Peter Barlow and viewers are currently engrossed in Karl Munro's battle against gambling, which has seen him run up huge debts and enrage partner Stella, landlady of the Rovers Return. Spoilers have also hinted that young Sophie Webster will become embroiled in the murky world of drugs.

According to the Office for National Statistics around one in four people will experience mental health problems. However, there is still a lack of knowledge and a certain amount of fear and discrimination where mental illness is concerned.

The Priory Group has hospitals and clinics throughout England and Scotland, all providing inpatient, outpatient and day patient treatment for individuals with a wide range of psychiatric, psychological and mental health related issues. Dr Richard Bowskill, consultant psychiatrist and Priory Group spokesperson said: "Anything that de-stigmatises and changes attitudes towards mental illness is to be welcomed. Using well-loved soap characters to portray this type of illness, if done credibly, sensitively and with adequate research can help break down barriers and give a real insight into living with mental illness. It's important that soaps show mental illness as part of everyday life because that's what it is. Addiction is also a part of daily life for many families. Whether it is drink, drugs or gambling many people struggle to cope with their problems. By highlighting these issues on primetime television it may encourage individuals to acknowledge their own problems and seek professional help. As daunting as it may seem, people should not suffer in silence but seek help at an early stage. There are cases where it becomes advisable to seek medical help via your GP who can refer you to experts such as the Priory."

At Priory we recognise that each patient is unique and our purpose is to empower patients to take control of their lives through providing the highest quality of care and support to promote positive outcomes.

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