‘Kate and I talked about that. What I wanted to do is talk about it and the one place you have always been able to do that because it is socially responsible is EastEnders.’
Raising discussion and encouraging people to talk about their mental health was clearly Rob and Kate’s driving force behind this storyline and already it is paying off. But tonight’s highly charged episode is the peak of the a massive build up – and could save lives.
Rob said, with a great passion and hope: ‘We reach millions of people a week – if 1% of people are helped by what we’re doing with Sean then that’s a huge amount of people who might reach out. What I wanted to say more than anything is that when you are in that place when you feel there is no way out, you have to ask for help. I have lost too many friends who didn’t and it was such a shock – they seemed so fine and that’s always the way.
‘What I wanted to show was even someone like Sean Slater – someone with so many barriers and guards and such broad shoulders – he needs help and he can ask for it. Him asking for help is the one thing I wanted to show people. That will save your life and it’s okay to need help.
‘If I am able to do that then there was no way I wasn’t coming back to try that. If 0.1% of people speak out after watching this storyline, that’s a lot of lives saved. The inherent responsibility of making this kind of stuff is constantly underestimated.’
And beyond the ending to Sean’s strand, Rob hopes that the character’s lasting legacy will be a contribution to the discussion around male mental health and depression continuing.
He said: ‘I want the conversation to continue from here. The message I really wanted to get across is to talk to someone – even if you’re feeling fine, check in with someone. It’s good to talk and have that support system. Just talk to your friends, anybody. If I could make this storyline last six months then I would just so people wouldn’t miss it.’
The dramatic continuation of the storyline airs on Friday 3rd May at 8pm on BBC One.
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