Friday 20 April 2018

Television shows 'inspire' mental health sufferers to seek help, says star

Maisie Williams said the portrayal of mental health issues in television programmes can inspire sufferers to look for help[
Maisie Williams said the portrayal of mental health issues in television programmes can inspire sufferers to look for help[

People with mental health issues are more likely to seek help if they see similar problems depicted in television drama storylines, Game Of Thrones star Maisie Williams has said.

In the week that the popular TV show returned for its sixth series, Williams has come together with a mental health charity to commend media coverage of mental health issues.

Charity Mind, launching its 2016 media awards, said that n ews reports and soap and drama storylines about mental health are having a huge impact on audiences.

The 19-year-old actress saw the impact media coverage can have after appearing in the drama Cyberbully in 2015.

"Shows like Cyberbully can really help young people to build up the courage to ask for help or to accept that what is going on in the classroom or online isn't acceptable," Williams said.

" I feel like it inspires young people to pick up the phone or talk to a parent or just get help.

"After Cyberbully was aired in the UK, we had the anti-bullying line on afterwards and they had a massive influx in calls from kids and teenagers who had been too frightened to speak out and try and stop whatever is happening and I feel like it gave them the confidence to do that.

"In Casey's (her character in the drama) situation after her friends and family found out about her mental health issues and struggles online they didn't judge her. They accepted it and they were very forgiving and very helpful.

"I think seeing that, for someone who may be going through something similar, would hopefully be uplifting. No-one is going to judge you, there are people out there who want to help you. I hope that is the message people get from a series like Cyberbully."

Mind has also issued findings from a new poll which found that 52% of people who have seen a storyline involving a character with mental health problems say it helped to improve their understanding of such issues.

A quarter of the 2,000 British adults surveyed said have been inspired to start a conversation about mental health after seeing a story about it in the news.

Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, said: "These statistics show just how powerful all forms of media can be in encouraging people to go and see their GP, call a helpline or just get in touch with a friend or family member with a mental health problem. Media portrayals and reporting, when done well, can be a lifeline. Drama storylines in particular can help people who might be struggling to feel less alone and they play a vital role in signposting to the help and support that is available.

"It's fantastic that we are seeing more media coverage which offers a sensitive, compelling and realistic representation of mental health. We urge journalists and programme-makers to continue this welcome trend of showing people with mental health problems as a whole and giving a platform to more people to speak out about their experiences."

Press Association

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