Scandal! actors talk bipolar disorder

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Vernon and Chevonne are navigating a relationship with Chevonne suffering from bipolar
Vernon and Chevonne are navigating a relationship with Chevonne suffering from bipolar

It's something that's on everyone's mind right now - taking care of our mental health.'s Scandal! new storyline between Vernon and Chevonne is highlighting just that. 

The two are played by Wayne Van Rooyen and Schelaine Bennett, who are excited about the direction their characters are taking and having an opportunity to highlight a mental illness. 

In the story, Vernon’s new girlfriend will soon be revealing that she has bipolar and the couple will have rollercoaster of a relationship.

“I have been very fortunate in my career that the characters I play have been impactful. It is a great joy to play and make the people I portray to come alive. I am very open to the opportunity to play Chevonne and the journey she and Vernon are taking together.

“I have friends who have bipolar and so I have some kind of understanding of it. I think we all need to be kinder and show compassion to one another. As actors I think we need to research so that we do not offend but to also do it authentically.  I also think it is important for people of colour to have such conversations about mental health,” she says.

Read more | on Masasa Mbangeni's exit "She has enjoyed a great run with the Scandal! family"

Wayne insists that because of how fast paced life is, everyone should try and live in the moment without stressing too much about what the future holds.

“I think most of us have some level of anxiety. Everyone is trying their best and stressed out and needs kindness.  Vernon is terrified but because Chevonne has accepted him for who he is, he is willing to do everything in his power to make sure that things are okay for her. He is following his heart.

"Very effective treatments for bipolar disorders are available"

“I have been playing the character for about five years now.  And there has been a lot of growth and it has been incredible.  I am very happy that he has found love, his story has been that of rags to riches.  He is a good guy with bad tendencies,” he says.

Scandal!’s executive producer Ilse van Hemert says it important for them to address social issues that their audience members face.

“The problems experienced by many of our viewers, either firsthand or through someone close to them, can dominate their lives without being understood. Mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder are much more common than we may realise. Yet what do we really know about those that are affected.

"Scandal!'s creators believe it makes for absorbing television to delve into some of these issues in an empathetic way, while at the same time being informative. It is Scandal's intention to make a valuable contribution to the mental health and happiness of our viewers, or at the very least, to create awareness and understanding for each other,” she says.

Read more | Living with mental illness

Cassey Chambers, the operations director at South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) says doctors classify bipolar as a mood disorder because it is a physical illness marked by extreme changes in mood, energy and behaviour.

“The exact cause of manic depression is not known, but it is believed to be a combination of biochemical, genetic and psychological factors. While the disorder has been seen in children, the usual age of onset is late adolescence and early adulthood.

"Mania, occasionally appears for the first time in the elderly, and when it does, it is often related to another medical disorder. Manic depression is not restricted to any social or educational class, race, or nationality. Although an equal number of men and women develop the illness, men tend to have more manic episodes.

"Women experience more depressive episodes. Many people with bipolar disorder are very well known. Some have won Academy Awards; others have created literary and fine-art masterpieces, or led their nations in critical times of history. Very effective treatments for bipolar disorders are available,” she says.

For more on bipolar and other mental health illnesses contact SADAG on0800 21 22 23 or 0800 70 80 90 or sms 31393 or   

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