Probably not the most in-depth review as I haven’t had a lot of time to process the programme shown on BBC 4 on Wednesday called ‘Sectioned’ as a part of the ‘Out of Mind’ season about mental illness.
The programme’s aim was to allow a greater insight into some (in this case three) patients who had or were being detained in hospital under a compulsory section of the Mental Health Act (known as being ‘sectioned’).
They followed three men – Anthony, Richard and Andrew and looked at the challenges they have and continue to face and the way they have experienced mental health services – particularly and exclusively (because of the nature of the scope of the programme) in-patient services.
Between them, they had experienced a number of hospital admissions and the programme certainly picked up on the cyclical nature of some of the experiences of mental illness. There isn’t necessarily a beginning and an end but more different ways of seeing things and different places along the scale of wellness and illness.
Rather than recount the experiences that were highlighted in the film, I think at least the film succeeded in presenting the stories of three individuals rather than three ‘patients’.
We had an understanding of who the subjects were and the effect that their illnesses had on them and their closest family.
The story was one of experiences rather than processes quite rightly and I think there is scope for programmes such as these to increase appreciation and understanding of the reality of mental health inpatient wards. There was no indication that any kind of support or process existed outside the wards but I suppose that wasn’t the point of the programme. There was a helplessness though that I was almost left with when I wanted to justify a little more hope than was presented but perhaps that wasn’t within the bounds of the programme makers remit.
One of the most striking things was the declaration that hospitalisation is and was crueller than imprisonment. There is no sentence though, just a revolving door and no crime that has been committed to lead to the sentence and the natural cycle of right and wrong.
It was a decent and sympathetic programme covering an aspect of mental health services that is often ignored. I wonder if Janet Street-Porter would benefit from a little time watching programmes such as these and coming to visit a psychiatric ward..
But then, as I explained to my tearful foster child last night, so long away from her family with no idea when or if she might be going home at all, life isn’t about being fair.