To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, the BBC needs applauding for having made a new series of programmes about mental health. On Wednesday, it aired an utterly compelling one about anxiety entitled NADIYA: ANXIETY AND ME
As the title suggests, this one-hour documentary looked at the current mental health situation of former Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain. We were told how Nadiya had suffered from crippling anxiety for more than twenty years but had never actually had an official diagnosis from anybody.
In the name of raising awareness then, both the makers of this programme and Nadiya herself deserve much high praise indeed. There was no pretence or falsehoods on show here. It was raw honest viewing where we saw Nadiya at her most vulnerable state numerous times.
Uncomfortable to watch at times perhaps, however distressing scenes were needed to be shown in order to transmit just how debilitating a condition anxiety can be to live with. I am thinking here of when Nadiya emotionally revealed to us how she was bullied at school.
As a sufferer myself of severe anxiety and OCD for over twenty years, what I loved about this programme was how quickly it highlighted the two main interconnected treatment strands that NHS medical professionals recommend. It was revealed to us that these are a combination of medication along with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
Pill shaming is a thing that sadly exists in the society regarding mental health, so it was great to see the programme give first-hand evidence that went against this. For example, we got told the science behind it via hearing a current Psychiatrist’s explanation, as well as positive words from a current user of mental health medication called Laura Bartley.
Regarding the CBT, we saw Nadiya go and see an expert in this field called Paul Salkovskis. It was the privileged access that Nadiya gave us to these sessions that made the footage so compelling. We learnt of the severe panic attacks that she regularly experienced. Surely I can’t have been the only one, that found it profoundly moving when Nadiya revealed to us that her severe anxiety had led her to not having any friends at present? I was once like this so can imagine these words resonated with many sufferers out there.
It was also great to see CBT in actual practice here. This came about when we saw Paul tell Nadiya that they were going to go on a train to London, which would be a highly anxious exercise for her. She liked things planned, she told us. To see Nadiya accomplish this exposure task with great success was a very heart-warming moment to witness. It was inspiring to see Nadiya face her fears.
This documentary was educational, extremely informative and moving to watch throughout. It gave hope without ever sugar coating the harsh reality of suffering from anxiety.
A brilliantly made programme that can only aid the fight against the stigma in society of mental health conditions. Bravo Nadiya and bravo the BBC!
- You can catch up on BBC iPlayer