On Sunday (29 January), Call the Midwife released a new episode in which Spencer Wray, played by Keenan Munn-Francis, is seen struggling to cope with his schizophrenia. Viewers were given an insight into possible symptoms of the condition and how a person with it may have been treated in the 1960s.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists’ historian Dr Claire Hilton worked with the script writers on their portrayal of this character. After being given an initial script, she provided guidance on how the show could more accurately depict the experiences of someone with schizophrenia in the ‘60s, and the attitudes and understanding of the people around.
It is important that conditions like schizophrenia are portrayed sensitively and accurately to ensure that negative stereotypes are not reinforced. We hope that this storyline helps to raise awareness about the importance of mental health. Any associated negative stigma must be overcome if we are to ensure everyone gets the help they need.
Dr Claire Hilton, resident historian at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said:
"Stigma—the negative attitudes which people can hold towards others who have mental health difficulties—is common. It is associated with discrimination towards the sufferer. Fear of stigma and discrimination may prevent someone who is struggling with mental symptoms from seeking professional help, or even from talking to their family and friends about their difficulties. As a society, we need to do more to challenge stigma and negative stereotypes."