My Week: Jenni Regan has her say on soap storylines

The senior media adviser at Time to Change recounts her week

Jenni Regan
Jenni Regan

MONDAY - The week begins with one of the countless number of production companies that I'm working with calling me to find people to take part in its mental health documentaries. I contact our digital manager, who puts out an alert to our 98,000 Facebook supporters to see if anyone fits the bill. Then it's into a meeting with the Press Complaints Commission to look at how charities can work with the media to ensure that difficult health issues are tackled in the right way.

TUESDAY - I dash across from our headquarters in east London to the Channel 4 offices in central London to talk about its forthcoming mental health season. We have a lively debate about how to represent mental health fairly on screen while remaining entertaining. There's lots of talk about tone, language and how to avoid reinforcing negative stereotypes.

WEDNESDAY - Today is a 'soap day'. I have to read a number of scripts that include mental health storylines. I have a great working relationship with the production teams at EastEnders and Emmerdale - both are keen to seek our advice and tailor their scripts to ensure that they get the representation right. Some soap teams have fanciful ideas. One wanted to feature a personality disorder that doesn't exist. Then there are the scriptwriters who want to use a mental health problem to validate a character's actions. Someone might be an arsonist for many reasons - not because they have a mental illness.

THURSDAY - I am planning my next media advisory board meeting today. This is a panel of media representatives, most of whom have some experience of mental illness, who offer me advice and feedback on every aspect of my work.

FRIDAY - I have the opportunity to deal with my overflowing inbox. After this, I get on with editing my training video for industry professionals on reporting and portraying mental health in the media. I'm nearly there with the final cut - watch this space.

Time to Change is an anti-stigma mental health programme run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness

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