My dad’s mental health story was ditched for the royal engagement news on live TV
‘Welcome to the UK where an engagement is more important than mental health’
On Monday the 27th of November, a very important thing happened. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle had announced their engagement and people across the country were ecstatic about this news.
Yet little does everyone know, that on the same morning of the announcement, Ellie Wilkis, a 19-year-old Queen Margaret University student from Edinburgh, was meant to go on This Morning to talk candidly about suicide prevention with her dad.
But a last minute decision from producers at ITV, meant Ellie and her dad were axed from the show and forced to go back home.
Now, Ellie has told her dad's full story to The Tab, to raise awareness about mental health issues amongst men, which she refers to as "the cancer of the soul."
Welcome to the UK, where an engagement is more important than mental health. pic.twitter.com/wjF7TCXgz3
— Bhean (@_Bheanian_) November 27, 2017
In 2014, his son, Ellie's step-brother killed himself. And a year later, shortly after the anniversary of his death, Ellie's dad, Brian, tried to commit suicide.
But he has come a long way since then because just a week ago, Ellie tweeted about her dad overcoming depression and attempted suicide, celebrating his new job as a recovery support worker.
This year began with my dad mentally suffering depression and suicide attempt. Today he ends the year starting his new career in becoming a recovery support worker. Words can’t describe how proud we are #breakthestigma It’s okay not to be okay❤️ pic.twitter.com/HyUu3ZeO2S
— badiddy (@ellzthelephant) November 22, 2017
On Sunday the 26th of November, after the tweet was retweeted 29 thousand times, This Morning invited Ellie and her dad to speak on Monday's live show. Ellie and her dad flew out from Edinburgh to London to be on the show.
Cannot believe due to this tweet me and my dad have now arrived in London. Ready to tell our story tomorrow on “This morning”, eeeeek!!!!! ❤️? my heart beams with pride
— badiddy (@ellzthelephant) November 26, 2017
But as they were in the green room, about to be ushered in to go live, they were told that "they won't get on today."
The producers offered a slot on tomorrow's show straight away, but because the family live in Edinburgh, they couldn't drop their prior commitments and so they had to fly back.
They received a call that evening from the producer who apologised and said he was "disgusted with their behaviour" and that he "wanted to make amends".
But as it was prime exam time for Ellie at university and her dad's birthday the next day, they haven't been able to fly back down.
When Ellie spoke to The Tab she said: "Obviously we wanted to go back, because for us this story is massive and we wanted to speak to as many people as possible, but we just didn't have the time.
"I wasn't event angry, I was devastated because it took so much for us to say yes and then to be dropped essentially, was frustrating. I hoped that mental health would have been the main priority in that situation, but obviously it wasn't.
"They never even said to us, 'We can pre-record it and put it on tomorrow's show, thanks for coming down', there was no one to come in and say sorry. Instead they were just like 'Oh your cab is outside.'"
She added: "The responses we got, I was genuinely shocked and amazed. People from all over the country were reaching out to my dad to ask for mental health advice."
But Ellie and her dad aren't phased by what happened to them. They have already had an amazing outpour of support from Twitter and they are thinking of starting up a charity, which would provide a suicide helpline.
If you are feeling at risk of suicide or if you are worried about someone else who you think is at risk, call the Samaritans: 116 123 (UK) / 116 123 (ROI)