Hollyoaks and depression – part 4

POSTED ON 20/06/2020 IN Mental Health In TV & Film

The aftermath of Kyle Kelly’s death in the Channel 4 soap opera, Hollyoaks, has been heart breaking to watch, but it has been such an important story to tell and I am sure the storyline with Darren Osborne (played by Ashley Taylor Dawson) is going to continue as he has now finally sought help for his depression.

What I thought was great about the last few episodes is that the programme hasn’t shied away from showing all the different sides of opinion when it comes to mental health. Nancy (played by Jessica Fox) struggled to believe and to understand that Kyle (played by Adam Rickitt) would take his own life, while we previously saw Luke (played by Gary Lucy) dismiss Darren’s feelings as not being serious, and basically just told him to get on with his life. With Luke in particular, this opinion is unfortunately still prevalent within society today, but the show continues to educate, which is what they did with Luke.

The shock and the guilt on Luke’s face when he found out about what Kyle had done was very clear from the beginning. He was eventually able to apologise to Darren for how he reacted when he was confiding in him, and the Hollyoaks writers were fantastic in writing the scene between the two well-loved characters. Darren spoke about how he couldn’t begin to understand what Luke is going through (Luke has recently been diagnosed with a terminal condition) and Luke then said, in my opinion the best and most poignant lines of the episode; “that’s the whole point isn’t it? If we listen we can understand…I’m sorry I dismissed your illness as not being real because I didn’t understand it.” Darren ended up telling Luke that Kyle had previously saved his life after he contemplated suicide, and Luke then made Darren make an emergency appointment with his GP. Previously in the programme, Darren had made a reluctant Luke go to the hospital to receive his diagnosis, so it was good to see the parallels shown between a physical illness and a mental illness – both are important to get the right support for.

As mentioned in a previous blog post, I didn’t like Luke’s reaction when Darren first spoke to him about how he was feeling. However, I now understand the significance of why that had to be shown. Luke got a huge reality check when Kyle died, as he realised that Darren could have died as well if Kyle hadn’t of stopped him. For the character of Luke in the show, but also for many people in real life, I think this storyline has shown exactly what depression can lead to if people don’t ask for help and confide in the people around them about how they are really feeling. It also doesn’t have to be people around them who are confided in, there are a lot of support phone lines and other help available.

At the end of the episode, we saw Darren make the first step in starting the conversation with his GP. With the support of Luke and Darren’s girlfriend, Mandy (played by Sarah Jayne Dunn) by his side he said to the GP “I guess I’m just feeling a bit down”. That’s all that was needed to start the conversation, and I am sure it led the GP to ask further questions and eventually lead to a diagnosis of depression.

It can be difficult, but there are tips on how to start a conversation about mental health with a GP. I think it’s important to know that 30% of all GP appointments are related to mental health and wellbeing, and that one in six people in any given week will experience a mental health problem. It is also best to seek help for a problem relating to mental health as early as possible because this can then stop it from escalating and becoming a much bigger problem.

As always, a big thank you goes to Hollyoaks for continuing to write storylines about mental health as it creates a vital talking point in the soap opera world, as well as allowing for mental health to continue to become normal to talk about, and it lessens the stigma it has each time it is.


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Sarah Keeping MBPsS MSc PgDip GDip BA (Hons) Cert HE

Follow Sarah on twitter at @keepingapproach           


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