EastEnders announces postnatal depression storyline for Stuart Highway

Stuart Highway in EastEnders
EastEnders will air a postnatal depression storyline for new dad Stuart Highway. (Image credit: BBC)

EastEnders has revealed that they will be airing a father’s postnatal depression storyline for Stuart Highway (Ricky Champ) as he struggles to bond with his newborn son, Roland.

The soap has worked closely with the charities PANDAS and Mind on the storyline to ensure it is portrayed as realistically and as sensitively as possible.

Annie Belasco, Head of the Charity PANDAS, said: “PANDAS Foundation were delighted to hear that EastEnders intended to produce a storyline highlighting postnatal depression in men. We enjoyed advising the team around the postnatal depression aspect of Stuart's journey which we feel will be relatable to many fathers struggling to bond with their baby. 

“Postnatal depression in fathers is still a much undiscovered and stigmatised area, which is why it is so imperative that awareness is shared in no doubt that men who may be feeling unwell with symptoms of postnatal depression can seek the support that they need at an early interventional stage. A full recovery of any low level perinatal mental illness, with the right support is possible.”

The upcoming EastEnders storyline will see Stuart struggling to connect with Roland, leading him to question his love for the baby.

Stuart was diagnosed with breast cancer last year and struggled to cope with the discovery. He initially refused to have the operation as he was terrified that he would become addicted to painkillers, due to his history with addiction.

He decided to go to a retreat to find natural ways of shrinking the tumour, but after finding out that they didn’t work, Stuart decided to have the treatment for the sake of his son.

Rainie looks over Stuart as he lies in a hospital bed

Stuart made the decision to have the life-saving op. (Image credit: BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron)

Stuart has since been told he needs chemotherapy after his operation and his behaviour has been worrying his wife, Rainie (Tanya Franks) as he has been putting off holding Roland and finding excuses to not connect with him.

Alex Bushill, Head of Media & PR at Mind, commented: “When people see mental health problems portrayed sensitively on screen, it raises awareness and encourages people to seek support for their mental health. So, it’s great to see EastEnders dedicating airtime to exploring such an important issue. 

“I hope this story helps highlight how depression can impact new dads and encourage dads to seek help if they need it. Whatever you’re going through, you’re not alone. And you deserve respect and support.”  

EastEnders airs Monday - Thursday at 7:30pm on BBC One. 

Grace Morris
Staff Writer

Grace is a digital writer with WhatToWatch.com, where she writes series guides for must-watch shows and the latest TV news. She graduated from Anglia Ruskin University in 2020 with a degree in Writing and Film Studies, which only made her love for creative writing, film and TV grow stronger.

You'll usually find her watching the drama unfold in the latest reality series and much-loved soaps (usually with chocolate by her side!). Grace also likes to explore new places with her friends and family and, of course, watch and read about the latest films and TV series.