I want to write a post to express my respect for Coronation Street for their brilliant work in raising awareness of men’s mental health issues. They have tackled this through various storylines with the highest impact being that of Aiden.
To focus on a character who was good-looking, had got his business back, had women who loved him and friends and family around shows how mental health can strike anywhere. What the world sees is not necessarily anything like what we see in our own minds. However vigilant we try to be, it can be challenging to spot the signs of mental distress.
Millions of people watch soaps so they are in a superb position to make a positive difference to society and have done so on so many occasions. However, this campaign around men’s mental wellbeing really stands out. The episode showing the heart-breaking and very diverse reactions to Aiden’s death can only be described as impeccable. Actors need great writers and hats off to the writer of this episode. How wonderful that every single actor played their part so very well. There was love, shock, anger, guilt and learning as there always will be with any loss but perhaps particularly in the case of suicide.
Many of us will have had suicide touch our lives and some of us will have had suicidal thoughts. An old crush of mine killed himself. An uncle and two members of my husband’s fathers have made attempts on their own lives. I once had to tell a close female friend that one of her male friends had killed themselves. It felt like I was in a play as I guess such situations always feel a little surreal whilst also scarily true.
Can you remember bringing your baby home from hospital and wanted to keep checking s/he was breathing. I used to feel negligent every time I went to sleep. Now they are older, I still don’t like them to disappear too long and check to make sure they are OK. I like to think that I encourage the open sharing of feelings and that this will build mental resilience. I also have heard many mums say they never saw the suicide that now forms part of their family history coming at all.
As we watched the episode the other night, my 14 year old daughter burst into tears sobbing uncontrollably. “It’s still sad even if it is a fictional character” she said. I took her on my knee and we snuggled up discussing mental health and how this storyline will do so much good and will probably save lives too.
The Coronation Street storyline does not appear in a vacuum. I think we are at a key moment in history where we are all caring more about looking out for each other and this is long overdue. It always take one person to make a difference and that can be you or me or one of our children. Hats off to the people who have the guts to speak out when nobody is listening because if they keep talking folks will sit up and take notice. I am no Royalist but I do think Prince Harry being so open about his struggles has acted as such a catalyst towards us getting things right for our men and boys in the future.
Whilst I am blogging about this subject, I would like to express my strong view that any presenter on daytime telly who uses the term “Man Up!” should be fired.
Once again, huge respect to everyone involved in the Coronation Street storyline and of course there is so much help out there if you don’t feel able to talk to friends and family for some reason.
P.S. Interestingly after writing this post I logged into FB and found this memory from a year ago
“I know that bloggers in particular see me as open and honest but the truth is that life has been far tougher than I have revealed over the years. And the reason I am saying this now is to give hope because our life is changing for the better radically and that means anyone going through trouble now can have theirs changed too. We would all be a lot healthier mentally if we shared out struggles more openly and give up all idea of being ashamed or whatever because we don’t live up to some societal or media image of perfection.”
I guess this is a reminder that we don’t need to compete about who gets the best or worst deal on mental health or abuse issues. Women and men suffer and the more we work together the better.