BBC Four’s ‘Out of Mind Season’


I mentioned last week a programme ‘Sectioned’ which is on this coming Wednesday. This is part of a season which is starting tonight on BBC4 related to mental health.

It started with a rerun of Stephen Fry’s ‘Secret Life of a Manic Depressive’ with the first part being shown tonight and the second part on Wednesday.

At 9pm tonight, there’s a showing of ‘Mental : A History of the Madhouse’ which looks at the history of the ‘asylums’ through the words of people who worked in them and lived in them. A few of my colleagues worked in some of the larger longer stay hospitals. I’ve heard some of the stories but I think it’s useful to put mental health policy and practice in a historical context and I am actually really looking forward to watching this one.

At 10pm there’s a drama by Poliakoff ‘She’s Been Away’. It is about a woman who had been ‘away’ for many decades in a psychiatric hospital/home and a friendship she develops with another woman. In what was Dame Peggy Ashcroft’s final performance, it is summarized as

‘an agonizing depiction of medical bureaucracy ruining one life and nearly killing two others’

Although it was originally aired in 1991, it offers a great opportunity to see what was a very well-received television play. I’m also hoping to catch this although whether I’ll actually watch it tonight or not, depends on today’s workload!

Wednesday has the airing of ‘Sectioned’ which I wrote about briefly last week. It should be a chance to see a different side of the world in which I work and try to explore it as an outsider. Sometimes we become so used to the types of worlds we work it that seeing it from the outside is both refreshing and thought-provoking.

I think these seasons can do a lot to challenge thoughts and assumptions about mental health services and the people who use and need them. I hope to be challenged about my own assumptions and perceptions as well. I’m sure some reviews will be posted over the next week or so!

The Open University have a tie-in which looks at the documentaries (Mental : A History of the Madhouse and Sectioned) and also looks at how Mental Health can be explored through different art forms. It’s definitely worth checking.  They also have a free CD to give away which connects with the programme series and has five artists explaining how their personal experiences have impacted on their creativity.

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