Mental Health Awareness Week 2022: Content across TV, radio and digital

To provide support and help build resilience in challenging times

Content includes a number of deeply personal documentaries on BBC television, while radio stations from across the UK will also once again unite to broadcast a special one minute message in support of mental health awareness



This May, as we continue to live through challenging times, the BBC is broadcasting a range of content that highlights the stories of those who have faced mental health struggles and provides audiences with help and support to boost their resilience and look after their wellbeing.

Content includes a number of deeply personal documentaries on BBC television: Joe Wicks explores what it is like to grow up with parents who experience mental illness; Fergal Keane lays bare the impact of PTSD; Paul Merson and Adrian Chiles reflect on their mental health as they walk through the English landscape; and film-maker Klaartje Quirjins examines the way we deal with family, secrets, and life itself in the documentary: Your Mum and Dad: A Universal Truth. In addition, there will be special films and discussion on The One Show, Gardeners’ World and Countryfile.

Radio 5 Live’s Rachel Burden reveals live the results of an opinion poll commissioned by BBC Bitesize and parenting site, Netmums, exploring the mental health of children; a new three part series on Radio 2, Music Therapy with Edith Bowman features well-known guests discussing the songs which have helped them through challenging moments in their lives; singer and songwriter Nao presents The Music & Meditation Podcast from BBC Radio 3 and BBC Sounds; One for the Heads will see 6 Music programmes across the week focus on the theme of wellbeing, culminating with Slow Sunday - a day of chilled out music and soothing programmes to help listeners unwind; there will be a special Life Hacks programme on Radio 1; 1Xtra Talks will reflect on the week’s official theme of loneliness; and Asian Network will be playing the Mindful Minute throughout the week.

Radio stations from across the UK will also once again unite to broadcast a special one minute message in support of mental health awareness. The 2022 Mental Health Minute will be bring together hundreds of commercial, BBC and community stations at 10.59am on Friday 13th May.

The programming will supplement the BBC’s dedicated online resource, BBC Headroom, which was launched last year, with support from Alex Scott MBE, in response to the huge mental health challenges faced by many during lockdown and which has now had over a million page views. As a live, curated collection of the best of the BBC’s mental health content, it will pull together highlights from throughout the week, along with providing access to some of the best mental health content from the BBC’s wide ranging collection across TV, radio and digital.

There will be specially curated content on BBC iPlayer and BBC Sounds with documentaries, podcasts, radio shows and music with a focus on mental health and wellbeing and there will be further content across BBC Scotland, BBC Wales, BBC Northern Ireland and local radio.

Charlotte Moore, Chief Content Officer, says: “The BBC has a long commitment to tackling mental health issues in our programmes and this year it feels more important than ever to let people know they are not alone, and to provide help and support where we can. To mark Mental Health Awareness week, we have a breadth of content across television, radio and digital including documentaries, podcasts, guided meditation, playlists and discussion which I hope will resonate with audiences and give people the tools they need to boost their resilience and look after their wellbeing.”

Alex Scott MBE says: “It’s great to see that the Headroom online resource that was launched last year has been discovered and valued by people. Last year I said that times were ‘tough right now’ – sadly that message rings as true as ever. Not only with the lingering impact of the pandemic and lockdowns on people’s mental health, but also now war, rising prices and ongoing climate challenges… How do we find that resilience to keep on going? Headroom can’t solve everyone’s troubles but it continues to be a one-stop shop for tips, stories, playlists, documentaries, films, podcasts and more to help us all navigate these challenging times.”

Alex Scott wears a white polo neck top and looks up toward the sky
Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of mental health charity Mind, said: “Discussions about mental health problems were once confined to the shadows, so it’s inspiring to see the topic take centre stage across the BBC during Mental Health Awareness Week. One in four of us will experience a mental health problem each year. But many of us don’t feel able to reach out for support or know how to share what we’re going through.

“Mental health coverage in news reports, documentaries and dramas has the power to change that and encourage people to speak out, seek help and support each other. Our research shows that more than a third (35%) of people who have seen a storyline involving a character with mental health problems said it inspired them to start a conversation about mental health, and half (50%) said that it changed their opinion about the kind of people that can develop a mental health problem.”

Mark Rowland, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation, says: “It is wonderful to see the BBC throw its creativity and reach behind Mental Health Awareness Week, and offer people so many moving, inspiring and powerful reminders of why mental health matters for everyone.

“The Week is now 22 years old, and this year the Foundation has set the theme as Loneliness. The Week is for everyone to talk about any aspect of mental health they wish to though. Our goal is to help audiences grow understanding and share their stories on ways of tackling mental health issues, when life is a struggle. We all have mental health and it’s great to see how it has become such an important part of the public conversation.”

Deirdre Kehoe, Director of Training and Services at YoungMinds comments: “We know from speaking to young people and parents just how hard the past two years have been on their mental health. The pandemic has accelerated a crisis in young people’s mental health, so support and advice about it is more needed than ever. We are pleased the BBC is platforming a range of people’s experiences of struggling with their mental health, as we know this really helps to people not to feel so alone and de-stigmatise conversations about mental health for all age groups.”

In addition to the content outlined here to mark Mental Health Awareness Week, the BBC has an ongoing commitment to exploring the issue and raising awareness, in specialist content and through embedding mental health themes in our output all year around, including in our continuing dramas, in our biggest titles such as Glow Up, Ru Paul’s Drag Race and Wim Hof’s Freeze the Fear, and with Radio 1’s 24/7 wellbeing stream, Relax.


Joe Wicks: Facing My Childhood

Joe Wicks became a national hero during the first lockdown with his hugely successful “PE With Joe” workouts. But in the wake of the pandemic, it’s not just the nation’s physical health that concerns him – it’s our mental health.

Many of the thousands of letters and messages Joe has received since he began his workouts have been from parents, confiding in him about their own mental health struggles and their worries for their children. Unfortunately, Joe knows all too well how stressful and confusing it can be when you are a child and your Mum and Dad aren’t well and he wants to find out more.

In Joe Wicks: Facing My Childhood, Joe opens up on about his mum’s OCD, eating disorders and anxiety, as well as his dad’s heroin addiction and depression. He wants to understand how his family’s illnesses affected him when he was a child and how we can better support kids and families living in similar situations today.

Startlingly honest and emotional conversations with his mum, dad and brother unearth long-suppressed memories and lead Joe to confront how he dealt with his turbulent home life, and how it forged his identity today.

In addition, Joe has made a special ‘PE with Joes Wicks’ video where he gets Louis Theroux, Executive Producer of the documentary, to workout with him. Together they discuss Joe’s childhood, the difficulties of growing up around mental health issues and how exercise has helped him.

Joe Wicks: Facing My Childhood is a co-production with Open University

Fergal Keane: Living with PTSD

BBC Special Correspondent Fergal Keane has been on our screens recently, reporting on the unfolding refugee crisis in Ukraine. But this is far from the only conflict he’s covered during his long and acclaimed career. From Kigali to Baghdad to Belfast, he has always been at the heart of the story; a trusted BBC face, known for reporting with humanity and extraordinary empathy.

Offscreen, however, Fergal struggled to keep another story from overwhelming him. He was suffering from an acute form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. In 2020, Fergal went public with his diagnosis. In this deeply personal film, Fergal lays bare the impact of PTSD on himself and others like him. He explores how the condition led him to consider withdrawing from conflict reporting, investigates the latest scientific thinking behind PTSD and its treatment.

Paul Merson - A Walk Through My Life

Ex-England footballer Paul Merson reflects on his life, career and struggles with addictions as he takes a walk in the countryside with only a 360-degree camera for company.

Paul returns to Yorkshire in this one-off documentary, a place where he lived after leaving Arsenal for Middlesbrough in 1997.

Paul talks about anxiety during childhood and his three-decade-long fight with alcohol and gambling, and how his life was turned upside down.

Paul Merson - A Walk Through My Life is a co-commission by BBC Two and BBC England. It has been produced by Atypical. The documentary will air on Thursday 5 May at 8pm.

Winter Walks – Adrian Chiles

Broadcaster Adrian Chiles reflects on his mental health and attention deficit disorder (ADD) diagnosis as he takes a seaside walk in this one-off documentary.

Adrian has only a 360-degree camera for company as he enjoys a stroll around Scarborough on the Yorkshire Coast.

Winter Walks – Adrian Chiles is a co-commission by BBC Four and BBC England. It has been produced by Atypical. The documentary will air on Monday 9 May at 7.30pm.

Storyville: Your Mum and Dad: A Devastating Truth

Inspired by Philip Larkin’s poem 'This be the Verse', this documentary is a universal exploration into the many ways we deal with family, secrets, and life itself.

Film-maker Klaartje Quirjins originally set out to document therapy – but the director then decided to turn the camera on herself, beginning a journey to unravel her own family secrets. As a mother herself, Quirijns traces the lineage of her story across three generations – her mother, herself, and now her two daughters.

Meanwhile the therapist Kirkland Vaughans guides viewers through the complexities of the mind, showing how easy it is to become colonised by the behaviour of our parents. With the use of intimate family footage and diary filming, the director takes us on a voyage that many will find familiar and familial.


Radio 1

Radio 1’s Life Hacks will mark Mental Health Awareness Week with a special show on Sunday 8 May (4pm-6pm) dedicated to ‘open conversations’. Listeners will be given the opportunity to chat to chosen celebrities who are well-known advocates of mental health and well-being. Actor, director and activist Bonnie Wright will be talking to a young listener about Eco-Anxiety and singer, song-writer Sigrid will be discussing self-love and acceptance with another young listener.

Across the rest of the week, Radio 1 will be reflecting on the topic throughout shows and features encouraging listeners to protect and sustain good mental health.

BBC Radio 1Xtra will reflect the week across its daytime shows, including interviews with mental health professionals featuring on both Reece Parkinson’s and Nick Bright’s shows. 1Xtra Talks with Richie Brave will also explore the week’s official theme of loneliness.

BBC Radio 2

Edith Bowman
To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, BBC Radio 2 broadcasts a new three-part series, Music Therapy with Edith Bowman (9-10pm from Sunday 8 May) where six well known guests discuss the songs which have helped them through challenging or significant moments in their lives.

Guests including Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody, actor Daisy Edgar-Jones and Shaznay Lewis from All Saints talk through their choices with presenter Edith Bowman and, in doing so, the series explores how music has the power to comfort, heal and inspire us all - and the positive impact it can have on our wellbeing.

BBC Radio 3

Launching on 9 May, singer and songwriter Nao presents The Music & Meditation Podcast, the ultimate new therapeutic podcast series, combining music and meditation to help listeners deal with the stresses and strains of everyday life. The series will cover themes relating to mental health and wellbeing and is designed to be a fresh and accessible gateway into meditation for young people.

Each episode will focus on a different theme - from burnout to body positivity, through to dealing with loneliness and trusting your instincts - and take listeners through a specially-created ten minute guided meditation.

The eight-part series, which will be available as a boxset on BBC Sounds and broadcast weekly on Radio 3, will be enhanced by a carefully curated classical soundtrack and feature new music from some of the UK’s most talented up-and-coming composers recorded especially for the podcast by the BBC Concert Orchestra and BBC Singers.

In addition, celebrated broadcaster Clemency Burton-Hill makes a welcome return to BBC Radio 3 to host a special edition of the award-winning podcast Classical Fix, talking to guest psychologist Julia Samuel about the playlists she’s made for her and exploring the effects of music on mental health.

Mental health themes will also be explored in other Radio 3 programmes including Music Matters, Free Thinking and Essential Classics.

BBC Radio 4

All in the Mind

The war in Ukraine has turned lives upside down with millions of adults and children witnessing atrocities, losing loved ones, homes and even their countries. The psychological and emotional suffering can continue long after the immediate threat to their life has gone. As Ukraine’s humanitarian crisis deepens, Claudia Hammond explores the mental health interventions that are taking place. How do they work and how can they reach the people who need them both in transit and in hosting countries?

Bound to the Mast

Sally Marlow investigates why people with mental illness commit themselves in advance, when well, to treatment that they know they may want to refuse when they become unwell.

Some people may even choose to include a so-called ‘self-binding’ element, saying “this is what I want to happen, but when I’m ill, over-rule me even if I say otherwise”. The powerful image of Odysseus bound to the mast to resist the Sirens’ song, captures the overwhelming role that distorted thinking can play in mental illness.

BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Bitesize and Netmums

The focus is on child mental health on Tuesday 10 May as the results of an opinion poll commissioned by BBC Bitesize Parents’ Toolkit and parenting site, Netmums, are revealed.

Radio 5 Live’s, Rachel Burden, hosts a live panel of celebrity parents, experts and guests from Netmums to discuss the results of the survey which can be watched at as well as on the BBC Bitesize Facebook page.

The discussion will explore how worried parents are about the mental health of their children, the effects of the pandemic, and how confident parents feel about spotting their children’s mental health challenges and addressing them. BBC Bitesize is inviting parents to get involved by putting their questions to the panel and sharing their own experiences via their social media channels.

BBC Bitesize Parents’ Toolkit will host the survey results on their website with articles and resources for parents on topics such as how to talk about mental health and where to go for further help, including signposting to the Netmums free online Parent Supporter Service.

The discussion around child mental health - what parents and children are dealing with and what support is there to help them – continues throughout the day on BBC Radio 5 live.

Asian Network

Asian Network will be playing The Mindful Minute throughout the week, where inspiring young entrepreneurs from The Every Day Hustle will share their top tips for looking after their mental health. There will also be a special episode of The Every Day Hustle (Monday 9May) where Sonia Barlow will chat to Asim Amin, the founder of Plumm – a platform that helps people connect with affordable online mental health services.

Asian Network Chill (Monday 9 May, 9pm-10pm) will be playing the perfect Chill&Chai playlist to focus and help listeners relax and unwind.

Also, on the network Ankur Desai will be speaking to British poet, writer and actor Hussain Manawer, about how he is reaching young audiences to open up conversation around mental health and on Nikita & Mistah Islah (Saturday 14 May, 1pm-3pm) , they will be going head to head with Senti vs Certi as they choose tracks around the themes of self-love and positivity.

BBC Radio 6 Music - One for the Heads and Slow Sunday

From Monday 9 - Sunday 15 May, 6 Music is reflecting Mental Health Awareness Week with One for the Heads. One for the Heads will see 6 Music programmes across the week focus on the theme of wellbeing and will culminate in Slow Sunday (15 May) - a day of chilled out music and soothing programmes to help listeners unwind.

On Friday 13 May, Lauren Laverne presents a relaxing edition of Desert Island Disco and AFRODEUTSCHE hears from Luke Rollins of Soundcheck - an organisation which offers mental health support to those working in the music industry while Chris Hawkins has special guests across the week.

On Slow Sunday, Radcliffe and Maconie welcome listeners to their virtual spa, playing a selection of brilliant chilled out tunes; Cerys Matthews brings listeners a performance from Arun Ghosh; Nemone is back with a brand new series of Journeys in Sound; Guy Garvey eases into Sunday afternoon with an uplifting playlist; Iggy Pop serves up a Slow Sunday sonic cocktail with soporifically soothing numbers; and Stuart Maconie’s Freak Zone invites listeners to escape to the great outdoors with a meditative two hours of ancient instruments, songs featuring wildlife and recordings made in the great outdoors.

BBC Sounds

Across the week, BBC Sounds will showcase a wide variety of podcasts, radio shows and music with a focus on mental health and wellbeing. There will be curated collection of podcasts and shows on the theme of ‘Self-Care Sounds’ on the Sounds homepage – including Radio 1’s Life Hacks, Just One Thing with Michael Mosley, Composed with Emeli Sandé and Dr Rangan Chatterjee: Out of Hours.

BBC Wales

On BBC Radio Cymru Gwneud Bywyd yn Haws will be broadcasting an hour long special concentrating on mental health on Tuesday 10th of May. Guests include Natalie Jones and Llinos Patchell who will be sharing their experience of the pressure felt in education at this moment, how to best cope with scenarios of tension and anxiety and how to deal with heightened situations. And Eilir Owen Griffiths, a lecturer and prominent figure within the choral and entertainment world will be sharing his personal experience of mental health issues which he has only recently shared publicly.

Presenter Shan Cothi will be interviewing coach and mentor Andrew Tamplin on her programme Bore Cothi during the week about coping mechanisms and how he finds his way to the light during dark days.

And on BBC Radio Wales Science Café on will broadcast a special programme on mental health on Tuesday 10 May.

BBC Northern Ireland

On television, Fergal Keane: Living with PTSD will air on Tuesday 9 May. In this co-commission between BBC NI and BBC Two BBC war correspondent Fergal Keane lays bare the impact of his PTSD diagnosis. On BBC iPlayer episode three of Croí na Ceiste le Caoimhe, available from Monday 9 May,sees presenter Caoimhe Ní Chathail addressing body image and the challenges faced by many to look good.

BBC Radio Ulster will include packages throughout the week looking at a range of mental health issues. Each weekday morning Thought For The Day will feature contributions looking at the positive power of resilience. Sunday Sequence will look at the wider attitudes and how society deals with mental health issues. The John Toal Show and Sunday With Steven Rainey will feature positive stories of those who have overcome difficult mental health issues, and how they’ve coped and listeners to The Lynette Fay Show will hear from women who have developed skills to help them improve their mental wellbeing.

On BBC Radio Foyle The Breakfast Show will look at the impact of the cost of living crisis on mental health; The Mark Patterson Show will explore how young people are recovering from the impact of the pandemic on their mental health; Farming Matters will explore how resilience can help farmers get through difficult times in the industry and Gardeners’ Corner will share tips on how gardening can boost mental health.

BBC News NI and BBC Sport NI will also be covering issues relating to mental health throughout the week and BBC Bitesize will have lessons for primary and secondary pupils on a range of subjects including Managing your Emotions and Managing Conflict.

BBC Scotland

BBC Scotland will mark Mental Health Awareness Week with the launch of a brand new series, Darren McGarvey’s Addictions. In this three-part series, to be broadcast on the BBC Scotland channel and BBC iPlayer, acclaimed social commentator Darren McGarvey tackles specific subjects and examines how they affect Scotland. The emphasis in the first episode is on the country’s problematic and historically unhealthy relationship with alcohol, while the controversially high level of drug deaths and addiction in Scotland is the focus of the second episode. Behavioural addictions such as food, gambling and sex are examined in the third part.

Audiences will also have another chance to see documentaries which tackle mental health issues, including the award-winning Being Gail Porter; Bash The Entertainer and Playing the Game - Garry O’Connor on the BBC Scotland channel and BBC iPlayer.

BBC Radio nan Gaidheal’s two daily topical shows Naoi gu Deich and Feasgar an-diugh will feature a variety of content and the stations new youth magazine Cruinn will focus on the experiences of young people and what works for them in maintaining their mental health.

Radio Scotland will cover mental health issues throughout the week across its news output while Mornings with Stephen Jardine will host a special Mental Health surgery with their resident GP Dr Punam Krishan taking calls and questions on all aspects of mental health.

BBC ALBA viewers will repeat ‘Ceòl is Cràdh’, an award-winning programme which explores the reasons behind why many musicians struggle with depression or anxiety at some point in their lives.


The BBC places the utmost importance on the mental health and wellbeing of all those who work for us. We have a range of programmes and support networks for staff focusing on three areas: prevention of ill health, building resilience and providing support where needed.

This includes online mental health and resilience sessions, access to over 1,000 staff mental health first aiders, well-being courses for staff and managers provided by the BBC Academy, the Employee Assistance Programme, which includes a confidential 24-hour helpline and online chat facility with trained counsellors, and access to a remote GP. In addition, employees can also access the Occupational Health Service which provides advice to staff and managers on managing a range of health conditions in the workplace.

We have also given all BBC employees access to an online platform which provides a confidential service to help individuals track and understand their well-being and mental health over time in addition to providing helpful wellbeing resources in the form of podcasts, videos and learning modules.

The BBC has embarked on a review of our health and wellbeing approaches which will ensure that our approaches are evidence-based and fit the needs of our workplace. We are currently gathering information about the needs of staff from a variety of sources and exploring how we can further develop our wellbeing offer.

Source BBC TWO

May 4, 2022 6:18am ET by BBC TWO  


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