Eastenders and anxiety – part 1

POSTED ON 11/08/2019 IN Mental Health In TV & Film

As I have said before, I am a huge television fan in general, but soap operas are my absolute favourite. So, when I heard that EastEnders fan favourite Mick Carter, played by Danny Dyer, was going to have a heart attack, I was shocked. However, as any fans of the show will know, we now know that it wasn’t a heart attack that he had.

In Friday’s episode (Friday 9th August 2019), we saw the climax of a stressful week for the Queen Vic publican. Having already dealt with many, many (it’s a soap after all) dramatic life events over the past few years, Mick and his wife Linda are also now dealing with the realisation that their young son, Ollie, may have autism. For Mick and Linda, this is stressful because they don’t know how to deal with it and what this will mean. That’s another long-term storyline that will play out in the future, but in the days before we have seen Mick deal with that, Ollie running away and almost getting hit by a van, him needing to sort out the VAT for the business, and juggling with all of the other stresses in his life. Over the week we saw Mick clutch his chest and be out of breath a few times, and for most people, I’m sure they thought these were the signs of an impending heart attack.

In Friday’s episode, Mick was refereeing a kid’s football match and after an angry parent had a go at him for a decision he gave, we saw Mick’s vision go blurry and him slump to the floor holding his chest. Quite rightly, another character quickly called for an ambulance. However, when we next saw Mick, the ambulance was being cancelled – everyone thought he was having a heart attack, but he wasn’t. He then went to get a check-up but was called away when Linda needed him (it’s a soap, it was never going to be that straight forward). So for now we don’t know what’s wrong with Mick and what caused him to collapse, but many people have speculated that he in fact had a panic attack.

I’ll be writing more about panic attacks as well as anxiety, but as a soap viewer, I am very glad that it seems that this is where Mick’s storyline is heading. I can’t remember any big storyline which focused on this area of mental health. Using the character of Mick who is arguably the biggest character in the show, or at least one of the most popular due to the popularity of Danny Dyer, is also another way of showing that mental health doesn’t discriminate and anyone can be affected – even loyal, nice, waistcoat-wearing Mick.

Mick’s also had a lot to deal with in the past year – he was put in prison for two months for attempted murder, but this was actually a set up by his oldest ‘friend’ Stuart, and he was led to believe that Linda was going to divorce him, but this was a ploy to get the truth out of Stuart and eventually get Mick released. I personally thought he had ‘got over’ all that far too quickly, or hadn’t even addressed it properly in the first place, so maybe this storyline is now where it is talked about again.

OK, this is a soap opera and the above stories are just that, but as I have said before, soap operas are viewed by millions of people, and just by portraying mental health storylines can allow for more understanding to be had within our population. As this is an on-going storyline, I will be writing another blog post about it in the future, so watch this space.


Sarah Keeping MBPsS MSc PgDip GDip BA (Hons)

Follow Sarah on twitter at @keepingapproach