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Shrink Wrapped local radio

Shrink Wrapped is a new local radio programme on mental health and disability. Paul Carter talks to one of its presenters.

Shrink Wrapped is a weekly programme on BBC Three Counties Radio which broadcasts to Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire.

It's presented by consultant psychiatrist Dr Chetna Kang and Toby Friedner. Speaking to Disability Now, Friedner said that the idea for the programme was suggested by Dr Kang.

“What it has become is a programme that tries to dispel the myths and talk normally about mental health and to see the person not the disability and to look at disability in a positive way."

The programme is based around topical disability-related news and issues. The first episode looked specifically at work and the impact of mental health and disability, as well as considering the impact on benefits, such as the effect of uprating on Employment and Support Allowance.

“We can go into that level of detail because it’s a specialist programme. A larger proportion of our audience understand what ESA is and what the work group is and what the support group is than they would on a mainstream programme and I think over time that will increase. But we also need to be conscious that we might be talking to people who perhaps aren’t disabled themselves, or might know someone who is, or who are just interested in the sort of topics we’re talking about.”

High on the Shrink Wrapped agenda, according to Friedner, is breaking down the stereotypes and stigma surrounding mental health and to bring topics and subjects into the mainstream that may still be considered taboo elsewhere.

One programme deals with the issue of a man who wishes to use his direct payments to engage the services of a sex worker, while another segment will feature an interview with a man with schizophrenia openly discussing his condition.

“We all knew those people growing up in our towns or villages who would walk around muttering or shouting, and people would laugh and point. Clive was one of those people, and here he is, in the studio, talking openly about his schizophrenia, about his symptoms, about the drugs he uses to control it, about how he feels now. Talking about all of that stuff normally - just having a conversation and breaking down barriers. That’s really important and in that way, yes we are hoping that people will understand a bit better that behind behaviour that society may see as a bit odd, is a person.

Shrink Wrapped is in its infancy, but Toby has grand ideas for it and hopes to reach a wider audience in the future.

“The ambition is to be national. Absolutely. You don’t need me to quote statistics about how many disabled people there are in the UK, about how many people have or will suffer from a mental health problem. This affects everyone. It may not affect you directly, but there may be someone close to you that it does."

·Shrink Wrapped is broadcast live on BBC Three Counties Radio on Sunday from 12 - 2 pm and is available on iPlayer

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