Skip to main content

Mental Health Awareness Week - Tackling the stigma around mental health

A psychiatrist has highlighted how popular TV shows and films can be a powerful tool for tackling stigma around mental health. ​

Dr Akeem Sule, locum consultant psychiatrist and co-founder of the mental health awareness initiative Hip Hop Psych has been using modern day TV shows and films as well as music to engage with people and help them understand different areas of mental health.

Akeem, who has worked at Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT) since 2018, talks to his patients about their interests in music and films during treatment.

If a patient is willing to discuss more in depth, they explore the themes in the arts which relate to their condition.

Akeem, who currently works with patients at the Linden Centre in Chelmsford, said: “More than ever before people are understanding mental health and have an interest in it.

“There is no longer a stigma associated with it and people are a lot more open about acknowledging their mental health struggles and seeking treatment for their mental health issues.

“TV shows can determine how people perceive mental health. I found there are a lot of popular TV shows which are delving into different areas of mental health and exploring it in a really respectful way which helps me to engage with my patients as I can discuss with them their diagnosis but on their level and in a way that they can relate.

“One of the popular TV shows we tend to discuss is Top Boy. In the show one of the characters called Sully presents with PTSD symptoms following his friends murder, and another character called Lauryn presents with Postnatal depression which has lead to a discussion on Perinatal depression in black women.

“Perinatal OCD is also addressed in Hollyoaks - which is a TV show popular among younger people. It is good that TV shows are able to highlight such issues in a way that engages different people.”

Akeem also gives talks to medical students and at nightclubs, youth institutions and prisons. He is now looking at working with disadvantaged young people in different countries such as Romania to discuss mental health in popular media and use his knowledge to help them.

Mental Health Awareness week takes place from 13 to 19 May.

Get help?