Open letter to ITV - PTSD is not a punchline
This open letter, although addressed in this instance to ITV, is a reminder of the care and attention that needs to be taken by everyone when talking about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and it’s debilitating symptoms – they are not a punchline in a joke.
We’re writing to you with a heavy heart today to address the comment made in episode 8 of the current ‘I‘m a Celebrity’ season surrounding PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
To be specific, we’d like to highlight our issue with the comment made by Ant McPartlin shouting ‘PTSD’ and Declan Donnelly exclaiming ‘Flashbacks’ whilst their song ‘Let’s get ready to Rhumble’ was played (insinuating that they were traumatised by hearing their old hit).
There is little doubt that this comment was made in jest, but PTSD is not funny, and it’s not a subject to take lightly. It’s a serious condition.
PTSD is a condition which some people develop after experiencing a trauma in their life such as a road traffic accident, bereavement, personal assault, natural disaster, miscarriage, traumatic childbirth, being bullied, sexual violence, childhood abuse, domestic abuse or fire.
It’s estimated that in any given week in the UK, 4 in 100 people have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – this equates to 2,612,000 people in the UK.
Using PTSD as a punchline in a joke not only further stigmatises the reality of the condition, but it also incorrectly and unhelpfully desensitises people to the debilitating symptoms that can lead to family problems, unemployment, physical health issues, self-harm, homelessness, alcohol and drug addiction, and ultimately suicide.
Jokes like this, using PTSD as part of the gag is only one in a long line of examples where people are using PTSD in a really disrespectful way – but feel that as the leaders of the mental health campaign ‘Britain Get Talking’, you should be setting an example and so feel that ITV has a duty of care to its viewers which includes comments like this which are not only unnecessary, but can also be incredibly damaging to those affected by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
We appreciate the duo’s script is likely written by a third party, so are not making assumptions, or directing this at any particular people, we simply ask that you try to do better. Support those who need support, don’t undermine your own brilliant campaigns, and stand by your word to help those struggling with mental health issues.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter, and understand how you’re committed to doing better and would love to discuss this further.
PTSD survivor and Founder & CEO of PTSD UK
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Treatments for PTSD
It is possible for PTSD to be successfully treated many years after the traumatic event occurred, which means it is never too late to seek help. For some, the first step may be watchful waiting, then exploring therapeutic options such as individual or group therapy – but the main treatment options in the UK are psychological treatments such as Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprogramming (EMDR) and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
Traumatic events can be very difficult to come to terms with, but confronting and understanding your feelings and seeking professional help is often the only way of effectively treating PTSD. You can find out more in the links below, or here.