In a four-part series Bedlam, Channel 4 boldly challenges the myths and taboos about mental illness through unprecedented access to the patients and staff of the Bethlem Royal Psychiatric Hospital – the world’s oldest psychiatric institution.
Anxiety has become the mental illness of our time – the NHS issues around 7 million anti-anxiety drug prescriptions every year – but while most of us are able to live with it, for some it’s completely debilitating.
In the first episode cameras at the Bethlem Royal Psychiatric Hospital in south London, follow the specialist anxiety unit as it treats some of the most extreme cases in Britain – the top 1 per cent. It’s a residential unit, one of only two in the country.
Most suffer with extreme OCD and despite the myths, these are not people who obsess about their houses being untidy. They have a serious mental illness rendering them unable to function, hold down jobs or maintain relationships.
The word Bedlam can be traced back to 1247 when the Priory of St Mary of Bethlehem was established in the City of London. The priory, which became a refuge for the sick and infirm, was known as ‘Bedlam’ and was the earliest incarnation of what is now Bethlem Royal Hospital, part of the South London and Maudsley.
Bedlam airs its first episode on October 31st at 9pm on Channel 4