As a registered mental health nurse/lecturer with over 40 years experience, I am utterly mystified by the portrayal of mental illness/mental health problems in the Zak Dingle story line in Emmerdale which I have watched with my professional hat on, so to speak.
It’s bad enough that these programmes claim to address “serious social issues” to raise awareness, as if they think they have a serious educational role in our lives, but why constantly get it so wrong?
What have they portrayed? A man who talks to himself. A man who threatens physical violence. A man who, though apparently depressed or having a “nervous breakdown” (to quote the programme makers), nevertheless has the motivation to wander out onto the moors and then, wait for it, he keeps falling over, waving his arms in the air and shouting at imaginary people.
Talk about every stereotype and caricature that uninformed people have about mental illness being on display – they’re all there.
Ultimately this portrayal does more harm than good. I’d love to know who they consulted for advice.
Terry Maunder, Leeds 5