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Failed by the NHS - Why the BBC Should Really Learn From Their Mistakes


The BBC Three's It's A Mad World Season so far has featured programmes such as Don't Call Me Crazy, Diaries of a Broken Mind and the icing on the cake on Monday, Failed by the NHS. This season was put together in an effort to break down the stigma surrounding mental health disorders, as well as raise awareness of the many different disorders people face in the UK today. So, why is it then that they have chosen such ridiculous titles for their programmes? Titles that have caused such Twitter mayhem and distress for those who contributed to these shows.

If anyone watched Failed by the NHS on Monday evening then they will understand that this programme was cleverly put together, hard hitting and revealed the truths about the mental health care (or lack thereof) in the NHS. However, anyone that didn't watch it but spent their evening on Twitter will have a different story as to what #FailedByTheNHS meant. Constant slurs of "If you hate the NHS then go die in poverty elsewhere" and "Stop asking for help if the service is so bad", not to mention the record number of times I read the hashtag #f*ckoff. What? What are these people talking about? The fact is, the NHS is greatly failing in the mental health department and the statistics will go on to back up that fact.

A report by The Centre for Economic Performance's Mental Health Policy Group, last year, states these facts:

  • Among people under 65, nearly half of all ill health is mental illness
  • Yet only a quarter of all those with mental illness are in treatment, compared with the vast majority of those with physical conditions
  • The UK has 6,000,000 people with depression or crippling anxiety conditions and 700,000 children with problem behaviours, anxiety or depression. Three quarters of each group get no treatment.
  • 50% of all A&E units lack the resources to give each person presenting with self-harm or suicidal ideation to be given a full psychosocial evaluation

It goes on and on and on. The simple matter is that there are not enough resources being poured into mental health, even though it is one key area that really needs to be focused on. That's not saying that the NHS as a whole is failing, or that the hard working doctors, nurses and other staff are rubbish. It's not a personal insult at anyone who may know someone who works at the NHS, it's just FACTS. Now that we've gone through the facts as to why those with a mental health disorder may feel 'Failed by the NHS', let's get back to the real issue here; the BBC.

Viewing figures. We all know what they are and we all know that many broadcasters will go out of their way to rack them up. If that means causing a Twitter storm or possibly upsetting some of the contributors then never mind. At least someone can show their boss that they got enough viewers to justify them keeping their job for another few months. But what about the people that get the fallback from all of this?

Before Diaries of a Broken Mind was aired, myself and many of the other contributors were trying to defend the title, as we read of the outrage. "Broken? My mind isn't broken!" I thought that was bad, but after seeing it all unfold last night my heart goes out to all of the contributors in Failed By The NHS. They did an incredible job of highlighting really important points, they could make a real difference to the way things are run. Yet Trolly McTrollson from Trollsville gets on his Twitter high horse and makes them feel like absolute crap. Yes they could avoid it, but why should they? Why should they have to avoid the negative responses and miss out on all the positive ones, from people who actually watched the programme?

On the other hand, ridiculous programme titles draw in viewers, and more viewers equals more awareness. But I think that any of us would prefer less people watch it, as long as they were willing to learn, rather than a bunch of people who wish to remain ignorant. Or even worse, a load of people who just jumped on the Twitter bandwagon, not watching the programme at all.

I respect BBC 3 for their mental health awareness season and hope that they continue to do this year on year, but I implore them to think up some better titles for next time round. For the sake of their contributors and the rest of the mental health community.

Finally, a big well done to Kim, from Minds Like Ours, for being involved in Failed by The NHS, being brave, ignoring the Twitter Trolls and fighting the cause. We're all very proud of you.

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