BBC launches Headroom - programming and content on mental health

To help everyone cope with the challenges of lockdown

"Whether it’s tips, stories, playlists, documentaries, films, projects, advice or education services, BBC Headroom is an online-support network to help us all navigate this challenging time and beyond" — Alex Scott MBE



The pandemic has had a huge impact on our mental health and the public’s resilience continues to be tested through this lockdown. People are finding it tough, loneliness has risen from 10 percent of UK adults in March to 25 percent in November and the proportion who say they are coping well with the stress of the pandemic has fallen steadily, from almost three quarters in April to 62 percent in November.

Looking after our mental health is more important than ever. Like physical health, we all have mental health and that can vary over time. The BBC is responding to this public need by creating a single, easy to find destination for people to turn to that brings the breadth of our mental health content across our services together in one place.

Headroom is a dedicated online resource that recognises the impact the pandemic is having on everyone’s mental health; a toolkit for the mind to help people look after themselves with practical everyday tips, inspiring personal stories, activities and music mixes to boost your mood, escape and relax.

Tim Davie, BBC Director-General, says: “At this time, we know many people are struggling. In particular, there are significant challenges for people around mental health. Headroom is a great resource for everyone bringing together a unique package of content to help in difficult times. Mental health is a topic that we should all be able to talk about.”

Alex Scott MBE, who is an advocate of talking openly about mental health, says: “As someone who has been more vocal about their own mental health journey over the past couple of years, I am honoured to be the ambassador for BBC Headroom. This mental health ‘online hub’ is a project I am very passionate about and believe this is absolutely something we need right now. Whilst I will always advocate for physical wellness, mental wellness is as important, especially during lockdown, and after such a tough year. Whether it’s tips, stories, playlists, documentaries, films, projects, advice or education services, BBC Headroom is an online-support network to help us all navigate this challenging time and beyond.”

Dr Xand van Tulleken says: “It is hard to overstate the harmful effects of isolation, grief and anxiety that so many of us are experiencing as a result of the pandemic. BBC Headroom is a really valuable online resource to help us navigate this challenging time and I’m looking forward to supporting its launch by offering support and advice across BBC outlets.”

The BBC has a long commitment to tackling mental health issues and bringing the conversation out into the open. BBC Headroom takes that commitment even further by helping audiences navigate a variety of issues at this difficult time. Content includes inspiring stories from a rich documentary back catalogue on BBC iPlayer; playlists, podcasts and music mixes to lift your mood, calm your nerves or soothe you to sleep from BBC Sounds; diet tips from BBC Food; motivational tips from BBC Sport; All in the Mind on Radio 4; ideas to help you get creative from BBC Arts and insights from BBC News.

BBC Education, Radio 1 and local radio have practical wellbeing advice for young people and parents. Encouraging conversation and coping mechanisms, connecting with nature and curated collections of programmes and resources offering a wide range of insights into different experiences with a wealth of content designed to relax and de-stress. And for those needing extra support the BBC’s Action Line has links to an array of specialist services.

Mark Rowland, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation, says: “The pandemic has posed an unprecedented challenge to the mental health of the nation. We know from research that many millions of people are struggling in a whole range of ways. That’s why it is so important that the BBC is launching programming that will assure audiences that they are not alone. It will also help people across the UK find the coping mechanisms to prevent problems from escalating. The mental health consequences of the pandemic are likely to outlast the physical consequences. It is vital that we engage with the issues and support an effective recovery. This BBC programming is part of what will help achieve that.”

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, says: “As the nation faces a ‘mental health pandemic’, it has never been more important for broadcasters to create mental health content with sensitive storylines which challenge stigma and encourage viewers to seek support if they need it. We welcome the BBC creating Headroom - an online hub dedicated to mental health content, resources and information - to help audiences navigate this difficult time.

"The combination of wintry weather and restrictions have meant many of us are watching more TV than ever, including programmes featuring mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. At a time when it’s harder to see loved ones and look after our own mental health, soaps and dramas have a huge role to play in helping people recognise when they’re struggling with their own mental health and prompting them to seek help. In fact, Mind’s recent research found one in five people (22 percent) realised that they had a mental health problem, or had experienced one in the past, while one in eight (12 percent) sought help for their mental health from a medical professional after seeing a mental health storyline.

"We are pleased Headroom will create a dedicated space for viewers to access their back catalogue of excellent mental health content including documentaries from Nadiya Hussain, David Harewood, and Alastair Campbell. We commend the BBC for their continued commitment to the depiction of engaging, accurate and sensitive mental health programming.”

Emma Thomas, Chief Executive of YoungMinds, says: “During a period that is exceptionally difficult for everyone, BBC’s Headroom initiative is very much needed. The pandemic has been difficult for millions of children and young people so we’re pleased to see a specific focus given to providing them with the advice and guidance they’re looking for. Many young people have told us that they have struggled during the past year as they lost their coping mechanisms, their daily routine and had to deal with social isolation and fear about the future. It is now more important than ever for us to come together to ensure that we know how to look after ourselves, and to support each other. Programmes like Radio 1’s Life Hacks can remind young people who are struggling with their mental health that they are not alone, and provide comfort, reassurance and practical advice.”

New content detailed below coming soon to

BBC Radio 1

Radio 1 will provide a lockdown wellbeing toolkit full of resources to help young people manage their mental health and avoid burnout amid difficult circumstances. Launching on BBC Sounds on Monday 22 February, the toolkit will include a brand new mini-series of Radio 1’s Life Hacks hosted by Katie Thistleton and Vick Hope. Across 12 episodes, Katie and Vick will explore some of the challenges affecting young people during lockdown, including maintaining motivation, building self-esteem and managing worries about the future.

The toolkit will also feature sleepscapes to help young people unwind, rest and recharge, and a range of mixes to help listeners overcome a range of day-to-day obstacles, from dealing with anxiety to developing resilience.

Radio 1’s Motivate Me Mix will feature musicians, sports stars and other famous faces sharing their own advice and techniques on how to build and maintain mental fitness to weather difficult times, while Radio 1's Decompression Session, a mindfulness journey hosted by breathwork expert and performance coach Stuart Sandeman, will equip young listeners with the skills they need to remain grounded no matter what life throws at them.For those needing help finding their ‘get up and go’, Get Set with Radio 1 will help listeners harness the Pomodoro Technique, a popular time-management method designed to improve productivity.

Fronted by YouTuber and CBBC presenter Joe Tasker, the mix will guide listeners to strike six things from their to-do list through 10-minute motivational chunks.


Dr Julie Smith, clinical psychologist and online educator, will be doing a series of short videos for the BBC’s social media channels and Headroom site to respond to what mental health concerns people are talking about online. The first will focus on acknowledging just how tough many people are finding life right now and on what small changes people can make to help themselves.

BBC local radio

Make a Difference: Happy Heads is local BBC radio’s new campaign to highlight the impact of the pandemic on young people’s mental health. With NHS mental health services already under significant pressure, the campaign aims to help children, parents and carers by sharing people’s stories, promoting volunteering and providing contact information and links to charities and organisations who offer vitally important services during these tough times.

BBC Radio 4

Cariad Lloyd presents What We’ve Learnt About Grief, an investigation into what science can tell us about grief in order to better understand our emotions.

In Club 18 to 30, journalist Marie Le Conte is looking at how a generation has been affected by the events of the last 15 years, what defines them and what adulthood means to them.

All in the Mind presented by Claudia Hammond returns in the Spring, part of Radio 4’s ongoing focus on mental health, when the winners of the All in the Mind Mental Health Awards will be revealed, which this year had the biggest number of entries ever.

Also from Radio 4 in April is podcast and radio series Just One Thing with Michael Mosely, which asks what’s the one action you can take each day to improve your health and wellbeing.

BBC Scotland

BBC Scotland will be offering a wide range of content across all television, radio and online as part of the BBC’s Headroom campaign. On the BBC Scotland channel, a brand new four-part series, Susan Calman’s Happy Space, will see Susan investigate the weird and wonderful ways we find joy during these uncertain times. Each week Susan will be joined by some famous faces and people from all over Scotland who will share the unexpected ways they’ve discovered happiness. There will also be another chance for audiences to see popular factual documentary series including the award winning Being Gail Porter, Lumo: Too Young to Die and Bash The Entertainer: Behind the Smile. And in the world of drama, River City will shine a light on mental health through a powerful storyline in the spring while across online and social a series of life hacks, mental health wellbeing tips and features will be served up. On Radio Scotland, we will introduce a series of hard hitting monologues exploring how the impact of life experiences shape male adult lives and examines what takes them to breaking point.

BBC Wales

BBC Wales has a wealth of content focussing on mental health. In this week’s Hayley Pearce Podcast on BBC Sounds, Hayley and the gang explore some personal lockdown mental health tips and focus on some of the ‘wins’ that see them through the day. Singer, Non Parry hosts Digon (Enough), a podcast from BBC Radio Cymru in which she discusses all aspects of mental health in the company of some well-known guests. And join BBC Sesh for some video shorts about dealing with life during a pandemic.

BBC Northern Ireland

BBC Northern Ireland is currently broadcasting a range of mental health related content on BBC Radio Ulster/Foyle under the banner of #MindYourself - Look after each other and Mind Yourself, with content also available on BBC Sounds. In Mindful March, BBC Radio Ulster/Foyle will launch the four-part series Music, Mental Health and Me and will broadcast a daily One Minute Mind series.

BBC Children’s

BBC Children’s are teaming up with Comic Relief in their biggest ever collaboration to get children across the UK to spread happiness, kindness and laughs during lockdown.

Kids are being encouraged to do activities that help them and others feel better - whether that’s putting a drawing of a smiley face in the window, writing a letter to a relative they haven’t seen for a while or telling their favourite joke and getting on TV. The Share A Smile campaign launched on 2 February and will run right across CBeebies and CBBC TV shows - from Blue Peter to Saturday Mash-Up to Newsround - and across our websites, TV presentation and social media channels in the build up to Red Nose Day. Kids can snap it, scan it and upload to the CBeebies or CBBC website where we’ll help with ideas for how they can get involved, and an interactive map will track the amount of smiles generated across the UK.

Source BBC One

February 12, 2021 6:06am ET by BBC One  


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