Monday, 26 February 2018

BBC 2 Girls On The Edge Documentary | Review

BBC 2 aired 'Girls On The Edge' on the 22nd February 2018 which is an hour long documentary based on the lives of three mentally ill teenagers, living their lives inside a secure Inpatient Unit under Section of the Mental Health Act. 

"One in ten teenagers have a mental health problem. According to the NHS, there has been a 68% rise in hospital admissions relating to self-harm among young teenage girls in the past decade. This hour-long observational documentary follows three families whose daughters have been sectioned under the Mental Health Act to protect them from harming themselves. The teenagers are all being treated at Fitzroy House. Their detainment is indefinite and the film explores the impact on them, their parents and siblings who don't know when they will be allowed home.

All have had different journeys into Fitzroy House. Jade, 17, has been sectioned for 18 months and is hoping to be discharged from hospital before her 18th birthday. Her twin sister Megan struggles with Jade's illness and finds it difficult to visit her. Jess, 17, was first sectioned when she was 13 and has been to nine different hospitals around the country. She is one of a growing number of children sent away from her area for treatment and her parents Vikki and John currently make a 300-mile round trip to visit her every weekend. Erin, 16, is nearly ready to be discharged from Fitzroy House. Her mum Emma is desperate to have her home but the responsibility of keeping her safe terrifies her.

Told in their own words with directness and raw honesty, the film aims to remove shame and stigma surrounding mental illness as well as explore some of the pressures on young people growing up."*

Whenever new documentaries are published regarding Mental Illness, I find that they can be very hit or miss and there can be a huge risk whilst watching them, they could be triggering to some and could possibly be harmful to your own well-being and recovery therefore, viewer discretion needs to be considered. 

I think that this documentary is a really good one; it really does give a good and accurate view of what it is like to be in an adolescent mental health unit, you hear the opinions of the young people themselves as well as their families who are trying to live their lives with their daughters being miles away in hospital. It really did open my eyes to how my mum may have felt when I was in hospital and how hard it really would have been on her and my brother.

I feel that this documentary is key in reducing the stigma surrounding mental illness and psychiatric hospitals; they aren't like the asylums were, the service users aren't punished for being unwell and it is used as a last resort, if it is felt that the service user can't be kept safe at home. When watching this documentary, you are able to clearly see that these girls are just normal people who are poorly, they aren't crazy, they are just average girls who are struggling with their illness and there is no shame in that. I would love to force every single person who 'doesn't believe' in mental illness to watch this documentary, because I can guarantee that if they actually open their eyes, their views will change.

Throughout this documentary, we experience the highs and lows of inpatient life, the fun times and the darker times when the ward is unsettled, the girls describe the unit so accurately and I can honestly say that it is portrayed almost exactly how a unit is, with the searches, incidents, medication routines, meal times and review meetings, it doesn't really seem much like a hospital at all. I think many people will get the impression that hospitals don't seem as bad as they thought they would be but a lot happens behind closed doors, and this documentary only gives a small insight into what really goes on, they're not glamorous, but it's not fair to compare them to prison, despite them sometimes feeling like that.

Despite this, I do feel like this documentary could be quite misleading. All three girls were on Section of the Mental Health Act meaning that they are detained against their will. I feel like this could somewhat be worrying to people who are ill as they could be worried to receive the treatment they need out of fear of being sectioned. It is important to realise that being sectioned is again, a last resort and usually, an informal admission would be trialed first. 

Overall, I did find this documentary both honest and beneficial regarding the stigma surrounding mental illness. I could empathise with the frustrations of the girls when discussing how much of a long process recovery is. I think it's really brave to go on camera, talking about not only your mental health but whilst at your worst. I liked how at the end of the documentary, we were informed on the girls progress. It is definitely worth a watch and is probably one of the best Mental Health documentaries I have come across.

* Girls On The Edge Documentary - available for one month after being aired.

Thank-you for reading, Tay x

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