Why Eastenders shouldn’t forget about Mick’s anxiety

POSTED ON 22/06/2020 IN Mental Health In TV & Film

With the BBC1 soap opera Eastenders currently off air until later in the year, now seems like a good time for soap fans to reflect on the storylines and talk about what should be focused on when it returns. I have previously written about Mick Carter’s anxiety storyline, and this is one storyline I think should not be forgotten about because it has been brilliant for the show to portray it so far.

Unfortunately Eastenders is now off air because of filming having been stopped due to the global pandemic. Reducing the episode output to two episodes a week allowed for the show to be kept on air for a while, but it ran out of episodes last week. However, it unintentionally ended on a brilliant cliff-hanger with Eastenders icon Sharon taking over the Queen Vic pub. Mick and Linda Carter had been wanting to sell their pub and we finally found out who the new owner would be in the last few seconds of the episode. It’s the end of an era for the Carters in the Vic, or at least owning it, having owned it since the end of 2013 when the characters first arrived in the show. In six and half years, the family have had more dramatic storylines given to them than most characters see in two decades, but in my opinion, the one that has stood out in the last couple of years is the anxiety storyline that began a year ago.

Ever since he arrived in the show, Mick Carter (played by Danny Dyer) has been squashing stereotypes of what he should be like. Any fans of Danny Dyer will know about his previous body of acting work as primarily portraying a ‘hard man’ and so many were pleasantly surprised to see the character of Mick having a bit of an edge, but generally being a nice, family man who cared about other people. As like many of the Carter family, he has been through a lot in his time on the Square, but last year had the start of an anxiety storyline which showed Mick having panic attacks and seeking help from a GP. We last saw this storyline mentioned around the end of last year, with Mick having a panic attack on Christmas Day, but it has generally been unmentioned since then. Of course, this is what happens in soap, as certain storylines are at the forefront for a while, and are then put into the background as other storylines take the focus. But I really think this storyline should not be forgotten about because it is not something that is forgotten about in everyday life, and the show has a continued opportunity to show how people live with it.

Anxiety is a natural response to believing that we are under threat, and can be experienced through the way people think, feel, and through physical sensations. It is what people can feel when they are worried, afraid or tense about things that are due to occur, about things that may happen in the future, or something that is happening in their lives currently. Anxiety can become a mental health problem when it has an impact on the way a person is able to live, such as experiencing symptoms like panic attacks, which is what Mick Carter has had. Anxiety affects a lot of people in the UK – in 2013 there were just over eight millions cases, which is why Eastenders has an opportunity to continue to educate people on what it is, but also to allow viewers to understand how people live with it.

Like with lots of soap opera storylines, they can’t all be focused on at once, but I felt as though the show was quite unique in portraying a character having frequent panic attacks and seeking help through a GP. I don’t think anxiety is given as much focus on when discussing mental health as other problems, such as depression, and so the show has the opportunity to continue with the foundations already laid in this story with Mick. With so many people in the UK experiencing anxiety, it is only right that it is continued to be discussed on the show.


Sarah Keeping MBPsS MSc PgDip GDip BA (Hons) Cert HE
Follow Sarah on twitter at @keepingapproach


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