EastEnders set to tackle male postnatal depression in new emotional storyline

EastEnders is set to explore male postnatal depression in a new emotional storyline featuring Stuart Highway who struggles to bond with his newborn son.

Beloved soap star Ricky Chamo – who plays the role of Stuart in the popular BBC One soap – will showcase the realities of his mental health struggle as his character also juggles his ongoing cancer treatment.

While tackling his ongoing breast cancer, the Londoner appears to struggled to connect with newborn son Roland which is set to send him into a downward spiral in the heart of Watford.

BBC bosses have revealed the cast and crew have been working closely with two mental health charities while covering the sensitive topic so that Stuart’s plight is portrayed to viewers at home as realistically as possible.

The soon-to-be dad has been a much-loved character on the show since 2018 and has recently gone through a number of emotional storylines on the show.

Over the past few months, Stuart has been diagnosed with male breast cancer which he has recently agreed to go under the knife for the sake of his son who he shares with his supportive wife Rainie Highway.

Throughout his milestone journey, the actor has worked closely and received guidance from Mind and the Pandas Foundation which supports parents and carers who are struggling to cope at home.

Head of Padas, Annie Belasco, said: “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.”

She added: “A full recovery of any low level perinatal mental illness, with the right support, is possible.”

Symptoms of postnatal depression can include continuous low mood, a lack of energy and difficulty bonding with your baby.

Head of media at PR at Mind, Alex Bushill added: “When people see mental health problems portrayed sensitively on screen, it raises awareness and encourages people to see support for their mental health.

“So it’s great to see EastEnders dedicating airtime to exploring such an important issue.”

He added: “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.”

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