Day to day, Jenni works directly with soaps and dramas. According to her, a lot more research goes into one-off BBC dramas – especially as they usually only have an hour to get an illness right – but soaps are her bread and butter. She talks me through the storyline of Stacey from Eastenders, who suffered from postpartum psychosis, which she says was one of the biggest projects Mind had ever worked on because it was a mental illness depicted onscreen over six months – "practically unheard of in soap history".
"Depression is so boring to show. If someone is depressed they don't want to do very much – they want to stay under a duvet, and that's not very dramatic. There is dramatic without the stigmatising knock-on effect, and that's what we're trying to find." – Jenni Regan, Mind
Yet, sometimes suicide is – and should be – talked about, and the events leading up to it shown. Lorna Fraser at Samaritans does the same job as Jenni at Mind. Although she can't name or shame good or bad storylines or scenes, as this would involve talking explicitly about suicide in a triggering way, as well as inadvertently doing the exact same thing in print as she's trying to prevent happening on the screen, she says that if companies come to her there's a very strong willingness to compromise to make the scene work. "There's a significant body of research which shows links between certain types of coverage of suicide and increase in suicide rates, so our work is focused on helping programme makers cover this topic safely to reduce that risk," says Lorna.
"What historically tended to happen in soaps was there'd be a character who wasn't very well known who'd come in with mental health problems and do something very strange. It was an excuse for someone to behave badly." – Jenni Regan, Mind.