26 Nov 2010

Open University programme for BBC FOUR wins ‘best documentary’ at Mind awards

Documentary followed the lives of men who had been sectioned

Documentary followed the lives of men who had been sectioned

A documentary produced by The Open University for BBC FOUR, which focused on the reality of being sectioned, has been named ‘best documentary’ at the MIND Mental Health Media Awards.

Sectioned followed the lives of three men (who had been detained under the Mental Health Act) as they strived to leave the mental health system behind for good and regain control of their lives. The documentary had unprecedented access to the mental health units within Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust – one of the largest such trusts in the UK – and was broadcast on BBC FOUR in May.

Open University academics Dr Tom Heller, Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Health and Social Care, and Mick McCormick, a former social worker and Lecturer in Social Work, provided academic input and expert guidance during all stages of the documentary.

Dr Heller said: “We’re delighted to have been recognised by Mind with this award. This film is probably the first time that people confronting such complex mental health challenges have been able to present their side of the story to a wide audience. The filming of their journeys has been done with enormous care and sensitivity and we can all learn from their quest to put these episodes of mental distress behind them. The film is also probably the first time that staff members from an acute mental health unit have been recorded going about their daily work. The dedication, tact and professional skill that is apparent in their work shines through as they negotiate the best possible outcomes for the people under their care.”

Charlotte Moore, Commissioning Editor for BBC Documentaries, said: "It's so gratifying to receive an award like this for Sectioned. It's incredibly important everyday issues from the world around us, often difficult to talk about issues, are reflected on the BBC through thought provoking documentaries. We are incredibly grateful to the courageous people who entrusted us with their stories in Sectioned. Without them we would not have been able to make this very powerful film about mental health."

The Mind Mental Health Media Awards celebrate the best portrayal of mental distress and reporting of mental health in broadcast media. The awards criteria state: “Broadcasters and journalists contribute to the way we understand mental distress and have the power to change hearts and minds. The best programmes give us the real story about mental health, told by those who know. They shed light on the hidden; uncover injustice and prejudice; and have an enormous impact on the people they reach.”

Sectioned was made in partnership between The Open University and the BBC and with the support of Headroom (www.bbc.co.uk/headroom), the BBC's mental health and wellbeing campaign, and was produced by Maverick TV. The programme formed was shown as part of the BBC’s mental health season.

The Open University produced a website to accompany the programme, which contains audio clips of interviews with a number of artists about the links between mental health and creativity, as well as free Open University educational resources: www.open.ac.uk/openlearn/sectioned

Notes to editors
Sectioned was produced in partnership between The Open University and the BBC.

Executive Producer for the BBC is Clare Paterson; executive producer for Maverick is Madonna Benjamin; Multiplatform Commissioning Executive for The Open University is Emma De’Ath; The Broadcast Learning Executive for The Open University is Kirsten Dwight; The Open University academic consultants for the series are Dr Tom Heller (Senior Lecturer in Health in the Faculty of Health and Social Care) and Mick McCormick (Lecturer in Social Work in the Faculty of Health and Social Care).

The OU has a 40 year partnership with the BBC which has moved from late-night lectures in the 1970s to prime-time programmes such as Life, Coast, James May’s Big Ideas and The Money Programme.

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