Saturday, 24 July 2010

Coronation Street and mental health


I'm full of admiration for Ian Puleston-Davies (Coronation Street's Owen Armstrong), who spoke out recently about his experience of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It's not an easy thing to do. Beverley Callard has also spoken candidly about her experience of depression. There's still a considerable stigma around mental illness, mental health problems, call it what you will, and it really affects people's job prospects, relationships, self esteem, and so forth - so it's commendable when people in the public eye speak up. Sometimes, celeb depression/bipolar stories in the newspapers don't ring quite true somehow - but these ones do, to me. Personally, I've seen mental illness from both sides - I spent years working as a counsellor and then due to reasons I'll spare you, suffered from severe agoraphobia and panic attacks which were truly horrendous. Although I don't suffer from OCD, I can identify with much of what Ian describes. Terrifying stuff. Fortunately in my case the worst is way behind me, I battled through it somehow, but like many I'm always afraid it will come back.
Mental health problems of one kind or another affect at least one in four of us (that's the stat. that's usually bandied about anyway), so they are a part of daily life - and Coronation Street reflects this. And the good thing is, they don't ruin it by going all po-faced and heavy-handed - like some "other serial dramas" I could mention. A storyline which sticks in my mind for obvious reasons, is the Shelley Unwin one, where she developed agoraphobia. I thought it was handled pretty accurately, except she got over it awfully fast! but, hey - it is soapland, and it would have been awful AND counterproductive if they'd made it boring. Another storyline I thought was well-handled was Maria's reaction to Liam's death. The Peter Barlow alcohol storyline has also been excellent. But best of the lot, in recent times - and I know we were all sick to the back teeth of hearing "He was a GOOD MAN" - aaargh!! - was the Joe McIntyre debt/desperation/faking own death saga. Very true to life - mostly! There are many (I WAS going to say, "in the same boat" - but won't) - who will be equally desperate, especially in the recession.
Anyway - many, many thanks to Corrie cast, writers, etc., for increasing awareness of these issues and showing that they are part of our daily lives.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Interesting article seapenguin, thanks.
I think it's very good when 'celebs' candidly admit that they have problems that aren't obvious to outsiders.
Obviously, 'knowing' someone who is suffering as you do, helps somewhat; might even prompt some to get help.
It also makes me appreciate what an excellent job the affected actors are doing when under such personal pressure.

As you say, sometimes you can identify with a character's situation, as I can with Joe's.

Unfortunately his kitchen cabinetmaking business failure and the dreadful spirally down of the character as it was going down the tube, rang very true.

As you say, it is "Soapland" so there was no drug addiction, theft, loan sharks, scams and suicide, but his desperation was very accurately portrayed, and yes, I viewed Joe's story with trepidation as to what could result from such desperation.

Hats off to both Bev Callard, and Ian Puelston-Davies, hope things have and will improve for them both.

Flaming Nora said...

Very well said indeed. An excellent blog post.

Anonymous said...

Most Commenters here, though at the time wanted Joe M. dead... I don't recall too much understanding or sympathy expressed for this character, his money problems and his pride.

Criticism of Joe McIntyre was more severe for him than for the Windasses who did not pay for his services nor for the pock-marked loan shark who terrorized a desperate man who wasn't acting with his full capacities but suffering under mental and emotional problems that clouded his judgment, hampered his trust and willingess to go to the police and instead thought up this hair-brained idea of faking his own death.

yes, it may be just a soap and he is a fictional character...and it's fun to wish him dead. But very few expressed much understanding .

Anonymous said...

Well I'm one who understood the desperation of this man full-well.
You mean it's Soapland and it's fun to get a chuckle out of the sort of people, like the Windasses, who renege on their payments, causing people like Joe, to reach the desperate state.
No one who hasn't 'been there', likes to see such despair, it's a downer, yet while not loving Joe's story either, it was an honest, well acted portrayal.

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