Eastenders to air postnatal depression storyline

Stuart Highway
Stuart Highway Image credit:

BBC’s Eastenders will cover a storyline focusing on postnatal depression as Stuart Highway (Ricky Champ) becomes a dad following treatment for breast cancer.

Up until now viewers of the popular soap may have believed Stuart’s low mood was related to his illness, but they are about to discover there is an underlying issue playing on his mind.

Whilst in recovery Stuart and his wife (Tanya Franks) became surrogate parents to baby Roland.

But after refusing pain relief because of his past addictions he has started making excuses to why he is struggling to hold his new born son and questioning if he really does love the baby.

The soap has been working with PANDAS and Mind to portray the illness as accurately as possible.

Annie Belasco, Head of the Charity PANDAS, told Radio Times: “PANDAS Foundation were delighted to hear that EastEnders intended to produce a storyline highlighting postnatal depression in men. We enjoyed advising the team around the postnatal depression aspect of Stuart's journey which we feel will be relatable to many fathers struggling to bond with their baby.

Postnatal depression in fathers is still a much undiscovered and stigmatised area. Which is why it is so imperative that awareness is shared in no doubt that men who may be feeling unwell with symptoms of postnatal depression can seek the support that they need at an early interventional stage. A full recovery of any low level perinatal mental illness, with the right support is possible.”

Alex Bushill, Head of Media & PR at Mind, said:  “When people see mental health problems portrayed sensitively on screen, it raises awareness and encourages people to seek support for their mental health. So, it’s great to see EastEnders dedicating airtime to exploring such an important issue.

"I hope this story helps highlight how depression can impact new dads and encourage dads to seek help if they need it. Whatever you’re going through, you’re not alone. And you deserve respect and support.”

Eastenders is on BBC ONE, Monday – Thursday at 7.30pm and available afterwards on BBC iPlayer.