Steve Halliwell (Zak Dingle from Emmerdale) was recently interviewed by The Big Issue in the North talking about his desire to create a truthful representation of poorer people and his own experiences of mental illness and getting support at The Retreat.
In 2012 the bury-born actor depicted the character suffering a mental breakdown. At its height he wandered out on to the Yorkshire Moors and was sectioned. In 2004 Halliwell himself spent a stint in The Retreat mental health facility in York.
"I received a lot of counselling during my time there so when it came to that part of the storyline, I knew the writers had got it right," he says. "There were no 'pull yourself together' attitudes - the professionals understand that's useless."
Halliwell credits the York Retreat for his ability to now recognise his triggers and when he is in danger of turning to alcohol. He rages against cuts to services like these.
"People are being treated as outpatients more and more. There are hardly any beds in these places. It is difficult to get anyone admitted for mental illness now. It's another symbol of society's attitude towards the poor and needy and unwell."
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