"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

WAKEFIELD – New ABC series takes an inside take a look at mental health and treatment.

From the comic play by Josh Thomas Please like me.For the documentary series Changing minds Filmed inside a psychiatric hospital, ABC has a track record of collaborating with mental health organizations and folks with experience creating compelling, compassionate stories about mental health.

New series created by Kirsten Dunphy and inspired by her own experiences as a patient Wakefield A fictional drama set in a psychiatric hospital within the Blue Mountains is a mystery.

Through his ensemble forged, Wakefield presents a nuanced, multi-layered story about mental health. This eight-part series explores some great benefits of long-form television narrative over feature film. This gives more scope to explore a spread of mental health stories without resorting to caricatures and stereotypes.

Roles on the mental health spectrum

The first episode of Wakefield focuses on 4 characters: two patients and two staff members. Everyone is at a distinct stage of their mental health journey, from recognizing their needs and searching for help to taking step one towards recovery.

We first meet James (Dan Wylie), wearing a suit jacket and tie on the phone along with his business partners. The camera pulls back from a good close-up on James' face to disclose that he’s wearing pajama pants – his office is definitely a psychiatric hospital room.

This visual conceit suggests that a person desperately maintains appearances and stays in denial about his mental health needs, which has led to his hospitalization after an overdose. James is always negotiating with hospital staff for access to his phone and laptop, as he tries to take care of the pretense of keeping a person under control.

'We're all crazy.' Wakefield shows patients and therapists on the sliding spectrum of mental health.

We then meet Ivy, a mother of a newborn baby, who’s returning to the hospital from a shopping trip. As played by Megan Smart, her anxiety and fear about caring for this fragile latest life is palpable.

By introducing James and Ivy as they perform on a regular basis activities, Wakefield challenges preconceived notions of the spectacle of madness. These characters don't seem sick, but their struggles are evident of their interactions with others.

Connecting these two characters is Nick (British actor Rudy Dharmalingam), a psychiatric nurse who responds to James' demands and Ivy's distress with care and compassion.

Nick is clearly good at his job. In the primary episode he uses quite a lot of strategies (throwing and catching a ball, a verbal response) to assist one other patient, Trevor (Harry Greenwood), calm down and articulate his feelings in a potentially violent situation. ends the

Nick's sympathetic approach to Wakefield's patients is in stark contrast to the intellectually and socially awkward head nurse Linda (Mindy McElhaney). Echoes of Nurse Ratched, the villain inside One flew over the cuckoo's nest., within the characterization of Linda and her adversarial relationship with Nick. This cliché is tempered by the revelation of her circle of relatives circumstances and the way in which McElhaney conveys Linda's despair and vulnerability.

Mental health and patient care are presented in a more nuanced way than 'us versus them'. Caregivers even have their very own struggles.

Initially, Nick is presented as a stabilizing influence but is combating his mental health. He can't sleep and a pop song from the 80's is rapidly creeping into his thoughts.

Nick's childhood flashbacks suggest a repressed trauma. A recurring image of him standing dangerously near a mountainside suggests suicidal thoughts. Her story reminds us that mental illness doesn’t discriminate.

Two men in an intensely emotional embrace
Nick (Rudy Dharmalingam) and Trevor (Harry Greenwood).

Complex stories, real and imagined

In the second episode of Wakefield, we meet patients Genevieve (Harriet Dyer) and Tessa (Bessie Holland) and psychiatrist Dr. Karina Wells (Geraldine Hackwell) who’re combating anxiety and guilt over a patient's death. .

The episode features Genevieve's experiences of being cared for by her partner, Raph (Ryan Kaur), and Tessa's mother, Belle (Heather Mitchell). Diversity of perspective is emphasized by repeating key scenes shot from different camera angles, offering a distinct character's perspective on the identical event.

Several stories of Wakefield's mental health problems are told through a combination of realistic and non-realistic techniques, including dynamic musical performance numbers that put the audience within the character's mind, showing the world because it is. are as they understand it.

Wakefield credits Dr. Mark Cross, who’s featured in Changing Minds as a consultant psychiatrist. A variety of mental health organizations are also recognized, including Mindframe, Headspace, Lifeline, Black Dog Institute, Beyond Blue, Mind Australia and SANE Australia.

It is encouraging to see Australian screen producers working with mental health professionals to create authentic stories about mental health issues. This skill encompasses many sounds.

With Wakefield, Kirsten Dunphy brings to the screen a fictional story inspired by her own experience as a patient and her creativity as a screenwriter and showrunner. The result’s an original and complicated portrayal of mental health.