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Monday, 20 May 2019

In Praise of Corrie - Mental Health Awareness Week 2019

In the past 12 to 13 months, Coronation Street has been predominant in bringing issue-based storylines into the Weatherfield world, with praise and abhorrence heaped upon them equally amongst us die-hard cobbles fans. Personally, I am quite the fan. In an age where social media (as opposed to tabloid sensationalism) can sway opinion and equally grab headlines, dramas that reach millions of people, several nights a week, certainly have an important role in modern society.

Working in my day job (in the disability industry), I am acutely exposed to ‘awareness days/weeks’ and their importance in raising awareness for minorities and (often underrepresented) health issues. This past fortnight, I think it's worth praising Corrie for serious awareness raised of two equally important conditions.

Where Carla’s psychosis and mental health storyline is rapidly developing during this week's #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek,  Freda’s reappearance, to coincide with the legend Malcolm Hebden returning to the cobbles, was actually aired during #DeafAwarenessWeek.  As a hearing-aid wearer (it has its benefits, trust me!), I was glad to see Freda back on the street and jovially winding up Amy’s efforts at BSL (British Sign language) and the character being so expressive with the signing.
Wouldn’t it be great to learn BSL?

With mental health now (finally) being at the forefront of the UK's social health agenda, Carla’s descent into psychosis and paranoia is also worth its weight in gold, when highlighting an issue that is equally troubling for both men and women. In 2018, we saw her fictional brother Aidan fight and lose his battle with mental health, and Aidan’s suicide was remarkable (without sensationalism) in highlighting how suicide is the biggest killer amongst men, under the age of 50, in the UK. Aside from opening discussion amongst the UK press, social media discussion, and with some brilliant charities involved, who can forget Gail's (Bafta nominated) incredibly moving monologue, written by Jonathan Harvey.

Carla’s demise then, during mental health awareness week, is not only timely, but will do wonders in raising more awareness of severe psychosis and how mental health is incredibly important to us individually, and society as a whole.  I doubt many of us will be embroiled in faux factory collapses, but, it is of course a metaphor for many a drama we all face as individuals and how we cope

Although issues-led storylines can come up for scrutiny, personally I think we can get more 3-dimensional characterisations from these storylines and I think it does help rather than hinder character development.

I wanted to write this to thank @itvcorrie cast and writers for raising awareness over the past fortnight of two important health issues within the UK.

With a promised special episode devoted to Carla's mental health still to come, it will be interesting to see how Corrie develops future storylines based on issues affecting modern working-class Britain.

What do you think?. Let me know in the comments section.

I am @rybazoxo on twitter, your (self-titled) 'cobbles connoisseur' and writer of the Wednesday episode blog reviews.

All original work on Coronation Street Blog is covered by a Creative Commons License


Louby said...

There was also Craig and his OCD. That storyline now seems to be well and truly over, but it would have been good to see a bit more about his therapy for it and recovery.

I'm interested to see how the Carla story progresses and what happens next. Hopefully it won't be the case that one day she's 100% fine again.

The timing of the Classic Corrie episodes was perfect, as Emily had a breakdown. I thought it was very well portrayed.

popcorn said...

"Carla's demise...." Carla dies?

coconno196 said...

Agree re Craig, they made it look like he had a miracle cure, whereas in most cases people only manage to control/ manage the problem. I don't think it ever goes away.

"Demise" does make it sound like Carla dies, but may just be a poor choice of word?

Anonymous said...

I appreciate that Corrie's storylines raise awareness and open discussion, but personally, I don't like their representation of certain mental health problems.

As mentioned above Craig seems to miraculously lost all symptoms of OCD. Chesney had a couple of panic attacks and also made a super quick recovery. As someone who has OCD and panic attacks, I feel that Corrie didn't do those mental health issues justice. They don't just come and go, they stay with you for years and never properly leave you. I'm not saying we need to see Chesney have a panic attack every episode, but it would be nice for these issues to be addressed every now and then.

Also when Aidan died, didn't Summer plan on setting up a support group for men to share their feelings so they didn't have to suffer in silence? Perhaps she's done it offscreen, but it would have been nice AND important for Corrie to follow through with this onscreen, to prove to viewers that people are willing to listen.

That's just my opinion anyway.

Flash Gordon said...

Too many characters, too big a cast to follow all the storylines. Consequently they get forgotten. They should cut the cast in half and go back to 3 episodes a week.


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