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NCMH provides Eastenders storyline advice

An episode of Eastenders aired last night featuring a ground breaking storyline on postpartum psychosis written with guidance from NCMH Director Professor Ian Jones.

Over 6.2 million people watched as popular character Stacey Branning experienced a severe episode of the condition, leading to a dramatic rooftop cliffhanger that will be resolved in Monday’s episode.

NCMH director Professor Ian Jones and Clare Dolman, trustee of Action on Postpartum Psychosis and Vice Chair of Bipolar UK, visited scriptwriters at the BBC soap last year. They discussed postpartum psychosis and issues around pregnancy and childbirth in women with bipolar disorder with the Eastenders team to ensure that the condition was represented as realistically as possible.

“I was delighted to be asked to consult on the storyline about Stacey” said Professor Jones, whose area of expertise is perinatal mental health. “It presented an opportunity to raise awareness of a widely misunderstood and stigmatised condition, and it’s fantastic that Eastenders is tackling it.”

“The Eastenders team were very keen to get the presentation of the condition right. They worked closely with women with lived experience of the condition and myself to develop the script, ensuring that Stacey’s on-screen experience was a true reflection of the illness. I think so far they have done very well. Lacey Turner, the actress who plays Stacey, has also done an amazing job representing what its like to experience postpartum psychosis.”

This is the second time that Professor Jones has provided script advice for Eastenders, having worked with former NCMH Director Professor Nick Craddock on the 2010 storyline that originally revealed that Stacey was affected by bipolar disorder. Professor Jones hopes that the storyline will not only raise awareness of postpartum psychosis, but also encourage women to come forward to help with research into the condition.

“Postpartum psychosis is a severe condition that can cause great suffering to women and their families. We need more people to come forward and take part in research so we can understand the causes of these episodes and develop better ways to help women who experience it.”

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National Centre for Mental Health, Cardiff University, Hadyn Ellis Building, Maindy Road, Cardiff, CF24 4HQ

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