The writers and producers of BBC One’s Casualty, and Michael Stevenson who plays paramedic Iain Dean on the show, have recently received floods of praise and positive comments online from viewers and fans about the current storyline which has focused on Iain’s mental health.
As part of a rare two-part crossover episode alongside Holby City, Casualty aired the devastating consequence of Iain’s depression last month when his character attempted to take his own life.
Since witnessing the death of fellow paramedic Sam Nicholls last year, Iain has been trying to work through intense and painful feelings of regret and guilt. Iain’s stress and depression worsened after his character discovered the body of his friend, Base, who had taken an overdose. Base couldn’t be revived and, although Iain attempted to complete counselling and move on from all of the death and suffering, he couldn’t shake the darkness and it was colleague Ruby who found Iain unconscious in his house after trying to commit suicide.
Thank God for Ruby! 💖👍👏
After rushing Iain to the hospital, the E.D. pull all of their efforts to keep Iain alive and they thankfully succeed!
Iain’s storyline has definitely touched hearts across the country from suicide survivors, to those who have lost loved ones to suicide. Even if you haven’t been directly affected by these issues in your own life, Iain’s story over the past 6 months has brought a host of serious topics to the limelight.
You only have to look at the tweets from fans to understand just how important the Iain Dean storyline has been…
Fans have praised the show for raising awareness for mental health and suicide…
Showing Iain’s deteriorating mental health and the consequences of it encourages conversation around suicide and depression and helps lift the stigma and taboo associated with the topic.
Additionally, this storyline has shown viewers some of the signs associated with suicidal thoughts which are sometimes so easily missed by even those closest to the victims.
Through Iain’s journey, Casualty has also spread the message that it is okay to ask for help when you need it. Although it didn’t work out, Iain understood he was headed down a dark path and needed professional help. Whilst some people find it embarrassing to admit to needing additional support, Iain signed up for counselling sessions which was such an incredible step for his character. Please be encouraged by this to always, always, always grasp the help and support that is available to you!
Viewers have connected strongly to Iain’s story, and some have shared their own personal experiences…
Iain’s personal struggle clearly hits home for a lot of viewers, which shows how genuine the portrayal of mental health on the show has been, and how deeply it can affect people.
A lot of people have compared Iain’s situation to suffering with PTSD…
Iain’s sudden outbursts of anger over the past few months, as well as his panicked nightmares, can indicate symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder which fans of the show have duly pointed out. PTSD can impact anybody, but those who work in the emergency services can be more likely to develop symptoms as they are faced with dangerous, high-stress situations.
Iain has also presented signs of suicidal and self-harming behaviour, as well as feeling potentially dissociated from his surroundings. This was most obvious when he prolonged his exposure to fire and smoke in a burning building on one paramedic shout, and when he faced off against a very unstable patient with a gun, acting overly-confident that the man wouldn’t shoot him.
Putting oneself in risky and harmful situations, and sometimes acting calmly about it, is another behavioural sign that an individual is battling with suicidal thoughts. Showcasing these signs really helped spread the knowledge of mental health and the symptoms to viewers of the show.
Fans also praised the realistic portrayal of suicide…
As Iain’s story has been developing over the past 6 months, the writers have been able to make everything as detailed and realistic as possible, which has truly paid off and allowed for a genuine and gritty performance.
This storyline has been somewhat atypical because Iain’s character is usually presented as fun and bubbly which shows how depression can affect anyone and can be triggered by a host of different things. This story has been able to delve into the more un-stereotypical cases of suicide and depression which affects many people. It has shed light on the kinds of people who are normally disregarded or misunderstood and has given them the opportunity to speak out about their experiences.
Casualty has also smashed stereotypes that suicide is always impulsive because Iain planned thoroughly in advance before taking an overdose. Allowing different circumstances and situations to be brought into this conversation is such a great way to raise awareness for those who don’t normally feel represented.
Michael Stevenson has received floods of compliments for his performance…
When dealing with such a sensitive and hard-hitting subject, it is really important that the cast and crew focus on making the story as sincere and truthful as it can be and Casualty has definitely pulled this off.
Michael Stevenson has really had the opportunity to grow as an actor and to develop Iain as a character, whilst raising awareness and being a voice for those affected most by suicide. The actor has been praised for his intricate performance which has been super emotional and heart-breaking.
This storyline has also highlighted the pressures on NHS staff, particularly those in the paramedic teams…
Working on the front line and during long, irregular hours makes being a paramedic one of the hardest, physically and mentally challenging, jobs in the NHS, and for Casualty to demonstrate the affects of this is really powerful and important. This is an especially essential conversation to be having right now as the NHS faces financial cuts, with a lot of their staff and departments stretched to the limits.
Mental health amongst hospitals and ambulance bays should be treated with the utmost seriousness as employees struggle against intense resource and pay cuts whilst facing bloody and traumatic situations.
Finally, the emphasis on male suicide has been incredibly well received…
A man who admits they are struggling and asks for help is still such a taboo concept, and this has led to many guys feeling like suicide is the only way out. Iain has been an inspirational example to men across the country that it is okay to ask for help, to go through therapy or counselling if you need it, and to turn to friends and family for support.
Feeling unworthy, insecure or not strong enough continues to be something men struggle with on a daily basis. The sooner we encourage people to talk, the sooner we can provide help to those who need it.
Iain’s journey on Casualty has definitely opened up a channel for individuals to discuss their own experiences which has made amazing progress in the battle against mental health problems.