This week, as the world’s attention turns to issues of good mental health for Friday’s World Mental Health Day, BBC Learning’s own mental health and wellbeing campaign – BBC Headroom – celebrates with the transmission of Alastair Campbell’s moving film, Cracking Up, some new faces at and a dedicated action line: 08000 933 193.

Launched in May 2008, BBC Headroom is a two year mental health and wellbeing project which aims to raise awareness of the importance of good mental health and de-stigmatise the problems surrounding the mental illness issues which face up to one in four of the population including anxiety stress, depression and nervous breakdown.

Following Losing It, Griff Rhys Jones’ film charting his issues with anger, this Sunday (12thOctober) sees the transmission of Headroom’s second film exploring a presenter’s own personal mental health problems as Alastair Campbell talks about his 1986 nervous breakdown: the culmination of months of intensive stress at work, too much alcohol, and a myriad of complex issues which simply made his head explode.  In Cracking Up he gives his first in depth account of this life changing event; revisiting the people, places, and landmarks of his breakdown and subsequent recovery.

Supporting the transmission of Cracking Up, viewers can find advice and support at BBC Headroom, including Alastair’s interview with Headroom’s online agony aunt, Ruby Wax.  Since Headroom’s inception, comedienne turned psychotherapist, Ruby Wax has hosted a weekly web-chat covering a range of different mental health and wellbeing issues including self harm, exam stress and bi-polar disorder.  Welcoming Alastair to Ruby’s Room, they discuss the nature of his nervous breakdown and how he now copes with his on-going depressive episodes, offering insight and advice to viewers who might find themselves in a similar situation. Ruby herself has a good understanding of these issues, not just from her psychotherapy training, but from her personal experience of depression – a subject that she discussed when Jo Brand paid a visit to Ruby’s Room and puts Ruby in the hot seat for a change.

Also for Cracking Up, welcomes communication, confidence and assertiveness tutor, Jeremy Milnes as presenter of a new series of wellbeing guide, specifically focusing on breakdown, anger, happiness and loss.

Finally, to tie in with the transmission of Cracking Up BBC Headroom is launching a new mental health action line – 08000 933 193 – which will offer callers advice about where to get support, if they or someone they know, is going through a nervous breakdown or dealing with other mental health issues.

Campaign executive, Nina Bell said: “BBC Headroom wants to help reach those who need such support and to encourage everyone to take good care of their mental health as well as breaking down the stigma that still surrounds mental illness.”

Cracking Up is a Liberty Bell production for BBC Two.  It will transmit at 10pm on Sunday 12th October.  Cracking Up is the second of five presenter led films on BBC Two commissioned as part of Headroom.

08000 933 193 – is a free phone number from a BT landline. Calls from other operators and mobile phone lines may incur a cost.

Notes to Editors:

  1. Headroom is a cross-platform campaign from BBC Learning to encourage people to look after their mental health and wellbeing. Headroom’s main aim is to raise awareness of simple steps that people can take to help look after their own mental health and improve their lives. Be it exam stress, relationship headaches, insomnia, anxiety or depression, Headroom will provide on-going support and information, as well as offering individuals the chance to share their experiences in a safe environment. As well as its extensive online offering, the Headroom team take their practical advice on a tour in the Headroom Tent and undertake grassroots projects with local organisations such as libraries. There is also be a range of on-air programming across BBC TV and radio, creating bespoke programmes or integrated contributions to ongoing series, both factual and drama.