Our experts support Emmerdale storyline on mental health

Mental health professionals from our children and young people's services have worked with researchers from prime time ITV programme, Emmerdale, to support a mental health storyline.

Mental health professionals from our children and young people's services have worked with researchers from ITV’s Emmerdale programme to support a mental health storyline.

Michael Taylor, clinical nurse specialist, adolescent forensic outpatient team and Dr Paul Tiffin, honorary adolescent psychiatrist, worked with researchers on the Belle Dingle storyline in which the teenage character experienced a psychotic relapse. Keen to ensure factual accuracy of the storyline, which saw Belle experience auditory and visual hallucinations resulting in a hospital admission for diagnosis and treatment, scriptwriters contacted the TEWV team for guidance.

Michael and Paul reviewed draft scripts providing professional mental health advice on symptoms, treatment and diagnosis along with guidance on how someone experiencing psychosis would appear and the levels of distress experienced.

The team’s relationship with Emmerdale scriptwriters goes back to 2014 when they were first approached to offer guidance on the character’s developing psychosis following release from prison, a storyline scriptwriters worked on with the youth offending service. The Trust’s working relationship with the youth offending service led scriptwriters to seek advice.

Michal Taylor said:“It’s been an exciting experience working with Emmerdale and it is very rewarding to know TV producers seek professional advice to ensure an accurate portrayal of mental health – both from a patient’s experience point of view and that of the diagnosis and treatment journey.

“As a result of our feedback, the scriptwriters were able to represent a realistic depiction based on script content of what it is like for a young person to experience psychosis.

“The storyline is a huge opportunity for children’s mental health to be covered on a prime time TV programme and the need for accuracy, sensitivity and sound guidance and advice is crucial to provide the viewers with the right messages about mental illness.”