30 Mar 2011

Open University programme for BBC FOUR wins broadcast award

Sectioned focuses on three men with mental health issues

Sectioned focuses on three men with mental health issues

A documentary produced by the Open University for BBC FOUR, which focused on the reality of being sectioned, has won the 2011 Learning on Screen General Education Broadcast Award.

Sectioned followed the lives of three men with long-term mental health problems who are initially ‘sectioned’ (detained under the Mental Health Act) and observed how they strove to leave the mental health system behind for good and regain control of their lives.

With unprecedented access to one of the largest mental health units in the UK, based at Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, the powerful documentary brought into sharp focus the huge challenges faced by patients and staff alike.

Open University academics Mick McCormick, a former social worker and Lecturer in social work, and Dr Tom Heller, Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Health and Social Care, provided academic input and expert guidance throughout the production of the documentary, which was broadcast in May last year.

Mr McCormick said: “We’re delighted to receive this award. This film is probably the first time that people confronting such complex mental health challenges have been able to tell 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.

“It has given a voice to those whose identity is often masked by a label and all three men have said making the film gave them that opportunity. Also, the dedication, compassion and professional skills of staff at the acute mental health unit shine through as they negotiate the best possible outcomes for the people under their care.”

The Learning on Screen Awards, which celebrate and reward excellence in the use of moving image and related media in learning, teaching and research, are organised by the British Universities Film & Video Council and were held at the national film theatre BFI Southbank in London on 24 March 2011.

This is the second time the documentary has won an award. In November 2010, it was named ‘best documentary’ at the MIND Mental Health Media Awards (www.mhmawards.org.uk/shortlist.html), which celebrate the best portrayal of mental distress and reporting of mental health in broadcast media. The criteria for the category stated that the best programme gives “the real story about mental health, told by those who know”.

Sectioned was made in partnership between The Open University and the BBC with the support of Headroom (the BBC’s mental health and wellbeing campaign), and was produced by Maverick TV. It was directed by Ben Anthony. The programme 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

Sectioned is available to buy for training and educational purposes from Open University Worldwide. Also in the pack is Mental: A History of the Madhouse which was produced by the OU as part of the mental health season and focuses on the history of mental health care in the UK from the Victorian asylums to care in the community. For more information, click here.

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