Joe Wicks became a national hero during the first lockdown with his hugely successful 'PE with Joe' workouts. But in the wake of the pandemic, it’s not just the nation’s physical health that concerns him – it’s our mental health.
Many of the thousands of letters and messages Joe has received since he began his workouts have been from parents, confiding in him about their own mental health struggles, and their worries for their children.
Unfortunately, Joe knows all too well how stressful and confusing it can be when you are a child and your mum and dad aren’t well, and he wants to find out more. Joe opens up on about his mum’s OCD, eating disorders and anxiety, as well as his dad’s heroin addiction and depression. He wants to understand how his family’s illnesses affected him as a child and how we can better support kids and families living in similar situations today.
Before the pandemic, there were 3.7 million children living with a parent who had a moderate or severe mental health condition, and all the data suggests that the number will only have increased in the years since. But even though, without support, children whose parents have mental illness are more likely to go on to have mental health conditions themselves, there is a chronic lack of help for children in this situation.
To discover more, Joe visits Our Time, the UK’s only charity dedicated to working with children of parents with mental illness. But as Joe explores the issue, he starts to ask questions about both his own childhood and how his early life experiences have affected him as an adult.
Startlingly honest and emotional conversations with his mum, dad and brother unearth long-suppressed memories, leading Joe to confront how he dealt with his turbulent home life, and how it forged his identity today.
Joe Wicks: Facing My Childhood airs Monday 16th May at 9pm on BBC One.