A helpline for viewers affected by issues in BBC programmes has seen a decrease in demand in 2022.
BBC Action Line received more than 850,000 calls and online visits this year – mainly over mental health issues – which is down 350,000 from 2021.
Last year, amid the pandemic, more than 1.2 million visited the service for issues such as sexual abuse and mental health concerns with the BBC.
The Action Line provides information and support for viewers and listeners of BBC programmes including dramas, documentaries and awareness campaigns.
BBC Two’s Louis Theroux Interviews… Yungblud, which saw the singer-songwriter talking about his mental health and his ADHD diagnosis, and EastEnders, which featured Jean Slater’s bipolar disorder and Amy Mitchell’s self-harm, were among the shows that prompted the public to get in contact with mental health support services.
A range of programmes covering suicide, grief and emotional distress, including Gazza, Freeze The Fear With Wim Hof, and Joe Wicks: Facing My Childhood, also generated visits and calls for support.
Wicks, known as The Body Coach, explored this year how his mother’s eating disorder and severe obsessive compulsive disorder and his father’s drug addiction affected him as a child.
The 37-year-old fitness expert also examined the UK’s parental mental health in his documentary.
In reality show Freeze The Fear With Wim Hof, inspired by the teachings of Dutch extreme athlete Wim Hof, a group of celebrities embarked on an “epic adventure of self-improvement, and faced a unique test of mental strength like no other” during the series.
The six-part series, hosted by presenter Holly Willoughby and comedian Lee Mack, saw Patrice Evra, Gabby Logan, Alfie Boe, Tamzin Outhwaite, Owain Wyn Evans, Dianne Buswell, Professor Green and Chelcee Grimes take on challenges for personal reasons.
A two-part documentary exploring the life of Paul Gascoigne, Gazza, covered how the former England footballer dealt with the pressure, intense media attention and injuries during his career.
In 2022, a total of 368,733 got in contact over issues relating to suicide, sexual abuse, mental health and self-harm.
Nick Mason, head of audience services at the BBC, said: “As a public service broadcaster, the BBC has played an important role this year in highlighting a range of mental health issues in our programmes and providing off-air information about organisations which can offer help.
“We will continue to offer vital support and information, encouraged by the powerful storylines and campaigns across the BBC, helping the many thousands of people affected by these issues.”
Since 2021, BBC Action Line expanded its support for mental health by adding self-harm to its online help page, while the debt page now covers issues of hardship and homelessness.
Topical programme Morning Live, rural show Countryfile and Radio 5 Live shows also prompted 27,000 calls and online visits for support for hardship, debt and homelessness.
For Love Or Money, a consumer series focusing on online dating scams, and Scam Land: Money, Mayhem and Maseratis, about an alleged multimillion-pound scam, raised the issues of fraud and prompted 10,847 visits.
The Archers also highlighted foetal alcohol spectrum disorders in a storyline involving the Radio 4 programme’s character Alice Carter, played by Hollie Chapman, which prompted more than 5,000 visits to the Action Line.
The BBC Action Line can be accessed at https://www.bbc.co.uk/actionline/