Untold: Konan - Trapped in Trauma Sheds Light on Rising PTSD Cases among Young People
PTSD UK were delighted to assist in the creation of a deeply moving Channel 4 documentary titled ‘Untold: Konan – Trapped in Trauma,’ where rapper Konan shares his journey of battling Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The film grants viewers intimate access to Konan’s therapy sessions as he confronts his past trauma. In doing so, he aims to raise awareness about the alarming number of young individuals in the UK who are silently struggling with PTSD, with many cases going undiagnosed.
Konan‘s decision to open up about his personal experiences and allow cameras into his therapy sessions creates a profoundly raw and emotional viewing experience. Throughout the documentary, he engages in candid conversations with others who also grapple with the debilitating effects of PTSD. Speaking about the film’s release, Konan expressed his hope that it would encourage others to engage in open dialogue, seek help, and embark on their own healing journeys.
The staggering statistics unveiled in the documentary highlight the widespread impact of PTSD among young people. Analysis conducted exclusively for Untold reveals that an estimated 300,000 individuals aged 16 to 24 in England and Wales currently have PTSD, with most cases linked to personal assault and violence. Approximately 70% of these cases go untreated due to low awareness of symptoms and the challenges associated with diagnosing the disorder. Channel 4’s analysis, based on research by King’s College London and data from the Office for National Statistics, suggests that increased early intervention therapy from the NHS could potentially save £2.4 billion in taxpayer money.
Dr. Michael Duffy, a psychological trauma specialist from Queen’s University Belfast and a featured expert in the documentary, emphasises the long-term consequences of untreated PTSD. He explains that when left unaddressed, PTSD can become chronic and severely disabling, fundamentally altering individuals’ lives.
One of the significant obstacles faced by people with PTSD or C-PTSD is the difficulty in obtaining a diagnosis and accessing timely treatment. The ongoing crisis in children’s mental health has led to alarmingly long waiting times for child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), with some regions experiencing waitlists of up to three years.
Konan’s personal journey with PTSD unfolds throughout the documentary, tracing back to a traumatic event over a decade ago when his house was invaded by gang members searching for him. The incident resulted in the death of his stepfather. Since then, Konan has grappled with symptoms such as anxiety, paranoia, flashbacks, and overwhelming guilt. He revealed “I just feel angry inside. I just feel like nothing. Like I’m never going to be able to escape it.”
During the filming of the documentary, Konan receives a formal diagnosis of PTSD. Konan candidly reveals that the disorder has prevented him from fully enjoying his career success, despite achieving two top-five UK albums. “‘The money, the fame, it doesn’t erase the trauma in my brain. It doesn’t erase how I felt that day, it doesn’t erase how now I’m permanently scarred.”
He shares how the trauma has left him in a constant state of vigilance, always analysing his surroundings for potential threats. “As soon as I go into a room I’m analysing the escapes, I’m analysing if there are weapons, I’m analysing who’s in the room, and I can’t relax.” The weight of his experiences has made it difficult for him to trust others.
Therapy has become an essential part of Konan’s journey towards healing and self-discovery. Through the therapeutic process, he has been able to identify the pivotal life events that have shaped his behavioural responses, gain a new perspective on his experiences, and recognize his triggers. Even after the conclusion of filming, Konan continues his therapy, astounded by the transformative impact it has had on his emotional well-being.
The documentary offers a glimpse into the lives of fellow trauma survivors who have also endured their own painful journeys, many of them PTSD UK supporters who found about the show through our social media ‘call’ for participants. It features people who coped with night terrors through self-medication, those haunted by guilt over their perceived failures to save loved ones, and individuals who have experienced abuse in their pasts. A prevailing theme throughout the film is the cultural pressure on men to be strong and stoic, discouraging them from openly discussing their emotions. “‘You know you’ve been told you just have to always be strong. That’s just culture. You’re a man’s man. You crack on init. You assume never to show weakness, never to be soft.” Breaking free from this societal expectation is a significant hurdle for many individuals seeking help.
Experts stress the importance of early recognition of PTSD in children and the provision of timely intervention. Traumatic events, even seemingly common experiences such as car accidents or muggings, can leave a lasting impact on young individuals. Open and honest discussions about trauma are crucial, even if parents may initially be reluctant to broach these sensitive topics. Early intervention, involving psychologists followed by Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR), has shown promising results in helping children overcome intrusive memories and avoidance behaviours associated with PTSD.
“Untold: Konan – Trapped in Trauma” serves as a poignant reminder of the pressing need to address PTSD among young individuals. By sharing his personal journey and shedding light on the prevalence of the disorder, Konan seeks to ignite conversations, challenge stigmas, and inspire others to seek the help they deserve, and we’re very proud to have been a small part of this awareness raising. “I hope this documentary encourages others to engage in open dialogue, rather than bottling up things like I did. I hope it inspires them to seek help and actively pursue their own healing and self-improvement journeys,” With increased awareness and early intervention, society can work towards creating a compassionate and supportive environment for those affected by PTSD, enabling them to embark towards healing and recovery.
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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.