Last year Georgina Wakefield and her family took part in a
documentary showing what it is like to live with someone with a
severe mental illness – her son Christian was diagnosed with
schizophrenia at 16.
Loving Christian was part of the BBC2 This Is My
Family series. A film crew followed the family for 19 days and
Wakefield has no regrets about being involved.
“I think it was very accurate and everyone who knows us says
how accurate it was.”
The film shows what it is like when Christian has hallucinations or
hears voices. Wakefield says: “In some parts of the film
Christian gets irate about a few things. But that is how our lives
are. There was no point in producing a film that is all goodness
Wakefield agreed to take part because of what she feels is the
injustice that surrounds mental health. “If you have
something physically wrong with you you get cards, flowers and
comforting words. But schizophrenia is not like that, you are more
Wakefield used to worry about the implications for her family of
appearing on television, but there has been no negative reaction.
Moreover, she received more than 80 supportive e-mails from the
public and, a few days after the documentary was shown, two groups
of young people approached Christian and told him that they had
seen the programme and now felt they understood schizophrenia.
Wakefield advises people to speak of their experiences. “If
people don’t stand up and tell their story, we’re on a
hiding to nowhere.”
Loving Christian is now being used by universities and NHS
trusts to train staff.