Emotional Christmas episodes of EastEnders will see Stacey Branning (Lacey Turner) begin to suffer with postpartum psychosis, an illness that can affect women just after they give birth.
Stacey is set to deliver her baby at this year’s Walford’s nativity play and viewers will then start to see Stacey battling with the mental health condition.
As long-time fans of EastEnders know, Stacey was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2009. And although postpartum psychosis can affect women without pre-existing mental health issues, it is more likely to develop in mothers who have bipolar disorder. In order to depict Stacey’s struggles as accurately and sensitively as possible, EastEnders has been working with both Mind and Bipolar UK.
Dominic Treadwell-Collins, executive producer said of the upcoming storyline: “Stacey’s mental health story will be one of our biggest storylines over Christmas and the beginning of 2016 as we explore Stacey’s bipolar disorder and its effects on her and those closest to her.
“We have always had a big commitment to Stacey’s story and this time we want to explore the effects of postpartum psychosis on those with bipolar – something which, although a rare illness, is unfortunately more common when mothers with bipolar give birth – and look at what we are doing as a country to help mothers experiencing this.
“EastEnders have worked closely with Mind, Bipolar UK, other experts in the field and women with personal experience to show a story that is true and painful while also filled with the usual twists and turns viewers have come to expect from EastEnders.
“Lacey is one of the most raw and intuitive actresses on television and it’s exciting to watch her getting her teeth into a really intense storyline as Stacey battles against the world. With the truth about Stacey’s baby’s parentage bubbling underneath and the final reveal of the meaning of Stacey’s key, this story is going to place Stacey right in the centre of a very big storm…”
Clare Dolman, vice chair of Bipolar UK commented: “As the national charity supporting people with bipolar, we’ve been glad to work closely with the BBC on Stacey’s storyline. There is a very high risk that women with bipolar will become ill when they have a child and 20-25% of them will have a postpartum psychosis so it’s fantastic that EastEnders are raising awareness of this devastating condition.”
Alison Kerry, head of media, Mind added: “We are pleased EastEnders is tackling another important, often misunderstood, mental health problem. Although very rare, postpartum psychosis is an incredibly serious illness that can affect a woman with or without pre-existing mental health problems just after birth.
“It is so important that we are raising awareness about this subject through the medium of soap as it brings the issue into the living rooms of a massive audience helping us to challenge stigma and improve understanding.”
Both Lacey Turner and EastEnders have won awards over the years for their portrayal of Stacey’s mental health issues, including the Making the Difference Award at the Mind Media Awards in 2009.
You can watch a 60-second rundown of next week’s episodes of EastEnders below.
And visit our dedicated EastEnders page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers.