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Channel 4 commissions documentary series The Maudsley

With one in four of us now suffering from a mental health problem, a new 4 x 60 series explores and demystifies the most profound decisions involved in treating the mentally ill.

The Maudsley (w/t) takes an in-depth and unprecedented look at mental health in Britain today, with exclusive access to a wide range of services, patients and staff at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM).

Key to the series, filmed over a year, is giving a voice to those who suffer with mental illness, from people with psychosis or manic depression to those with severe anxiety. For, although a growing number of us will experience mental illness in our lifetime, the stigma remains; it’s an unwanted label.

SLaM is the country’s best-known psychiatric trust and its services are unique, pioneering and often surprising. This is the most comprehensive access producers have ever had to any NHS mental health trust in the country.

Ralph Lee, Head of Factual at Channel 4 said: "Building on the success of last year’s 4Goes Mad season in bringing a fresh approach to mental health on television, we are delighted that the patients and staff of the Maudsley have trusted us to tell their stories for the first time."

The series is produced by The Garden Productions (24 Hours in A&E, The Audience, Inside Claridges) and series directed by Dave Nath (Cutting Edge, The Year the Town Hall Shrank).

The Maudsley (w/t) will follow the lives of patients and their families, touching on a range of mental health conditions. Each of the four films tackles a different aspect of mental health – the big issues of today. Many people manage their illness with medication; others walk a daily tightrope with the possibility of relapsing at any time.

The cameras follow a community mental health team; the lion’s share of SLaM’s work takes place in a community setting, looking after more than 35,000 people with mental health issues.

Cameras are allowed in to Lambeth Hospital’s Triage ward for the first time. In a postcode with the highest rates of psychosis in Europe, this is the Accident and Emergency of mental health - where patients are at their most unwell. For the staff it’s all about risk management. The buck stops with psychiatrists like Dr Martin Baggaley who makes crucial decisions every day. Getting it wrong could have tragic consequences.

Anxiety has become the mental illness of our time, with seven million drug prescriptions issued every year. The Bethlem Royal Hospital’s national unit treats the most anxious people in the country - the top one per cent - and claims a success rate of three in four patients. Some are consumed by irrational fears they’ve caused a road accident in their sleep, harmed strangers or have intrusive thoughts.

The number of older people with mental health problems is estimated to increase by a third over the next 15 years to 4.3 million. Bereavement, stress and loneliness can contribute and some end up on the Maudsley Hospital’s Older Adults Ward. With a premium on bed space patients cannot stay on the ward forever but some lose the confidence to go back home and live an independent life.

It’s executive produced by Amy Flanagan and Jonathan Smith. Broadcast is scheduled for Autumn 2013.

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