The full extent of Belle Dingle’s mental health problems have been revealed, with the character shown to be hearing the ‘voice’ of her dead friend Gemma Andrews.
Scenes just broadcast during tonight’s episode of Emmerdale saw Belle steal vodka and then go on a rampage at David’s shop, only for her then viewed to be acting on the orders of ‘Gemma’.
A distressed Belle was seen pleading: “I am begging you now, please just leave me alone. I’ve done everything that you’ve asked. I wrote that stuff on the house. I smashed the window. Mum and dad don’t have a lot of money – they can’t keep on fixing things.”
Getting increasingly agitated, Belle then said: “Please, Gemma, just stop it. Leave me alone!”
Since being released from youth custody where she was serving a sentence following her conviction for manslaughter, Belle’s welfare has become a concern for her parents Zak and Lisa, who remain unaware that their daughter is actually herself responsible for the vendetta.
For this particular plotline, Emmerdale has been working with the Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, as well as Young Minds, a charity helping to improve the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people.
In the run-up to tonight’s scenes being filmed, Young Minds set up case-study phone calls for actress Eden Taylor-Draper, so that she could talk to people who had gone through similar illnesses. Speaking about her experiences, Taylor-Draper said: “Gemma is tormenting and bullying her, but from within her own mind. She’s not seeing Gemma as a ghost, but Gemma is surrounding her.
“I’ve been working closely with the researcher at work and when I spoke to a person who had personal experience of this, it seemed our story was similar. It gave me ideas about how things happen and certain characteristics. I’m glad that this storyline has been given to me because it really means something.”
Anyone who is worried about the emotional problems or behaviour of a child or young person, can reach Young Minds here or contact them on 0808 802 5544.
You can watch a 60-second rundown of next week’s episodes of Emmerdale below: