EastEnders scoops mental health media award


The TV soap EastEnders has been recognised at an annual awards ceremony for its commitment to tackling mental health storylines realistically and sensitively.

The award was one of six won by the BBC in the Mind Mental Health Media Awards which mark the best radio and TV treatments of mental distress over the year.

The Making a Difference award was collected by EastEnders actors Gillian Wright and Lacey Turner, who play mother and daughter Jean Slater and Stacy Branning, who both have bipolar disorder.

Following the episode earlier this year when Stacy’s condition was revealed, nearly 7,000 people in five days visited a website set up to provide information about bipolar disorder.

EastEnders scriptwriters had interviewed members of the user-led charity MDF The Bipolar Organisation, and scripts were approved and revised by MDF patron Neil Tinning.

The BBC also picked up the award for best radio drama, for Radio 4’s Do’s and Don’ts for the Mentally Interesting, based on a blog about her life and condition by Seaneen Molloy, who has bipolar disorder.

Another award was collected for the BBC Two documentary Cracking Up, in which former Downing Street communications director Alastair Campbell reflected on his own mental health experiences.

And Tom Perry, Alastair Rolfe and Mark Payge, who were contributors to the Channel 4 documentary Chosen, won the Speaking Out award for talking about the impact of being abused as children at an English prep school.

Paul Farmer, Mind’s chief executive, said: “The quality of entries has been incredibly high this year and demonstrates that positive and authentic portrayals of mental health are compatible with the kind of original, creative and groundbreaking programming we have seen this evening.”

25 November 2009