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EastEnders: how realistic is the character Ian Beale’s mental breakdown?


This week we’re watching Ian Beale in EastEnders. Has the storyline raised awareness of mental health issues?

Successful businessman Ian Beale recently walked out on his family and friends after experiencing a mental breakdown. He was later found sleeping on the streets and looking dishevelled. Even after Ian returned to Albert Square he kept wearing his beanie hat for a number of weeks. Viewers witnessed his emotional reunion with his children after handing over control of his businesses to his daughter Lucy. In recent episodes Ian’s appearance has slowly returned to how he looked before he went missing but his general manner is quiet, withdrawn and lacking in confidence. Do you think the scriptwriters have handled the issue of mental health sensitively? Has the storyline raised awareness of mental health issues? What do you think?

  • What? EastEnders, BBC one
  • When? Mondays at 8pm, Tuesdays at 7.30pm, Thursdays at 7.30pm and Fridays at 8pm

Readers' comments (4)

  • anything to raise awareness of mental health issues.

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  • michael stone

    One of the MPs trying to get the new Bill passed, recently said in The House 'the existing law states that 'idiots are disqualified from sitting as MPs - something that would surprise many of our constituents.'

    Awareness of mental health issues, does seem to be improving.

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  • tinkerbell

    the undiluted misery of eastenders has probably caused a lot of depression amongst it viewers.

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  • michael stone

    tinkerbell | 17-Sep-2012 3:55 pm

    I was depressed, for most of 2009 and probably at least half of 2010. I know you are joking, and Eastenders is perhaps depressing, but I think Eastenders only adds to 'general grumpiness' in its viewers, if it 'depresses' them.

    I didn't volunteer to become depressed, my depression was apparently a bit unusual judging by a chance conversation I had last week (because I knew exactly who had caused my depression, it wasn't me, and therefore I never balmed myself for being depressed; apparently a lot of people do blame themselves, and I suppose if 'life in general' made you become depressed, you might blame yourself).

    My conversation was with someone providing stop-smoking help, but it was in a library, her door's signage was unclear, and outside I had been reading a booklet about depression. I did have a question (you've perhaps worked out how my brain finds questions by now) about CBT.

    Perhaps someone who works with depression, can answer it ?

    The question (of general academic interest to me) is this:

    Are those people who were optimists before their depression, more likely to accept CBT than those people who were realist/pessimist ?

    I wondered, because as well as 'depression', I'm sure there was some 'Pavlovian reshaping' interlinked, for my own experience. So I do believe, that it is possible to rewire your brain, by means of a combination of emotions and thoughts (I'm not so sure about, thoughts alone). But I instinctively don't like 'deliberately messing about with my brain' - but I was never particulary optimistic before being depressed, and if someone had said then 'do this - it makes you feel happier' (CBT) I wouldn't have gone for it, on 'mindset/attitude' grounds.

    By the way, having experienced depression, I can say that I definitely don't recommend it !

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