Ruby Wax is an acquired taste. She isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But there should be a collective taking off of hats for her unstinting commitment to removing the stigma of mental illness by allowing a microscopic approach to her own. We’re delighted she’s been awarded an OBE (Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) by the Queen for her services to mental health.
In 2013, Ruby obtained a Masters degree in Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy from the University of Oxford to increase her understanding of the brain and the science behind mental health issues. She has used this knowledge as the basis for her bestselling book and theatre show, Sane New World: Taming the Mind, an accessible, fascinating insight into human behaviour and a manual for understanding how the brain works.
She became a patron for the British Neuroscience Association and brought mental health issues to the foreground in Parliament through work at the Home Office and speaking at Downing Street to raise money for neuroscience research. Amongst other charity work, Ruby became an ambassador for Mind and SANE, has held open sessions for sufferers and set up dedicated social networking communities for mental health. She performed her first show, ‘Losing It’, based on her experiences of clinical depression, in a number of institutions and charities, and has become a leading speaker on mental issues, including appearances at TEDGlobal 2012, various UK National Health Trusts, the Royal College of Nursing, British Association of Counselling & Psychotherapy, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Mindfulness in the Workplace, Women of the World Festival UK and Comic Relief.
She has some impressive supporters:
‘Ruby has always been a star in my firmament, and although she can make your ribs ache with laughter she can also wrench your head round to see the darkness in the world, and how to deal with it. No-one deserves to be recognised more. I hope she will have a very large copy of the medal made, and will wear it on her shoulder like a parrot. I adore her.’ – Joanna Lumley
“The silencing stigma surrounding mental illness has always been a major obstacle in our attempts to find healing solutions. Over time, society is generally beginning to realise that by bringing the issue out from the shadows and isolation, we can begin to reduce the associated fear and shame – creating a first significant step forwards towards improved mental health. Ruby has found a bridge to connect this message to people through her books and bravely “audacious” public dialogue. She has lived it personally – worked it and earned the T shirt!” – Annie Lennox
“For the past decade Ruby Wax has laid her own life bear in order to encourage change in our understanding of Mental Health. There is nothing glamorous about being a poster girl for this issue, but she has embraced the role with rigour, intelligence, honesty, wisdom, compassion and determination. I am in awe of her commitment to encouraging debate about the subject by using her own understanding, strength and vulnerability. She is magnificent.” – Emma Freud
“Ruby deserves this award and more. She has managed to turn her own experiences into a life affirming message for others and to demystify much of the hocus pocus which surrounds mental health. I couldn’t be more thrilled for her.” – Sandi Toksvig
Ruby is back on a UK theatre tour in summer 2015, creating awareness about mental health and inviting the audience to share their own experiences and build a network of support and advice within the performance. Then she will be appearing in Australia. So watch out for a performance/group therapy session happening near you.