Monday, November 21, 2016

New SLaM documentary on Channel 4

Channel 4 has confirmed that a new observational documentary, which focuses on the work of our forensic mental health services, will air on Tuesday 29 November at 9pm on Channel 4.

The programme, Life on the Psych Ward, follows three patients at the Bethlem Royal Hospital as they face the prospect of discharge after decades under lock and key.

It’s the first time cameras have been allowed on the secure wards of the South London and Maudsley Forensic Services. It’s home to more than 100 patients, many of whom are considered too mentally disordered to be in prison.

Working here comes with a huge weight of responsibility. It can take years of treatment to reduce a patient's risk of violence but eventually medical teams must decide whether a patient is safe enough finally to re-join the outside world.

Tony has paranoid schizophrenia. His condition is aggravated by the use of illicit drugs and he has a history of going AWOL when on leave.

James is serving a life sentence. He has a personality disorder and a history of antisocial behaviour that he is hoping to leave behind. 

John is another lifer who was found guilty of attempted murder. Now, after more than twenty years of psychological therapy, he’s beginning to make unaccompanied trips outside the hospital.

This is a moving portrait of three men coming to terms with the trauma they have caused, taking their first steps outside the hospital and desperate for another chance.

Prof. Thomas Fahy, Clinical Director Forensic Services South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust:

“With Rare Day, we have produced a programme that shines a light on the fascinating work of our forensic psychiatry services at Bethlem Royal Hospital.

“We wish to inform audiences about the factors that make some people with mental illness commit serious crimes and how these patients are carefully assessed and treated in secure hospital conditions, and how, for the great majority, admission to these specialist services is the first step to eventual recovery and safety.

“We hope that viewers also gain an understanding of the patients’ lives in the unit and see how helping this challenging group of patients to progress can be fulfilling for our excellent, compassionate clinicians.”

Peter Dale, Executive Producer, Rare Day:

“We see the headlines in the papers about the crimes committed by people who are seriously, mentally disordered but know so little about what happens to these individuals after they have committed their offences.   

"Making a documentary about forensic mental health services has been an ambition of mine for many years.  It’s such a vital but little known part of NHS mental health services. 18 months on, thanks to the openness and professionalism of the Trust, we’ve made a programme that I think gives a rare and surprising insight into this little known area of the NHS. 

"We couldn’t have done it without the patients who, despite having committed some appalling crimes, have been prepared to share the issues they struggle with and their hopes for the future.  And we couldn’t have done it without the teams of dedicated staff who bring their expertise to trying to help patients gain some kind of insight into what they’ve done and what they need to do to one day re-join the outside world.”

Find out more by exploring our programme microsite

You can watch a trailer for the programme here

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