One night a few weeks ago I found the grasp of sleep once again elusive and turned to the comforting glow of the tellybox like so many do. It was the small hours of the morning where babes are at their station and drunken insomniacs are gambling on virtual roulette tables and phoning in late night quiz shows with wrong answers. Hopping from channel to channel I came across a documentary on Channel 4 entitled, 'Mad Confessions'.
Funny woman Ruby Wax was presenting the show, and I've always been a massive fan of her work, so I made a cuppa and nestled into my snuggie for an hour of early morning laughs and delight. Whilst the show was incredibly entertaining there was a very serious message. Here is the official channel 4 synopsis of the show:
Audiences remember Ruby Wax as the larger-than-life comedian. Now her career has taken a different turn: 'I've become the poster girl for mental health,' she says.
Building on the success of her mental health stage show, during which the audience is encouraged to speak openly about their own experiences, in this documentary Ruby campaigns to break down the stigma that still surrounds mental illness.
She wants to support people who choose to stand up and be honest about their condition, and follows three successful businesspeople as they disclose their mental illness to their employers and, in some cases, their friends.
Ruby also takes her cause to the House of Commons to find out the current state of the law, and meets the MPs who recently spoke openly for the first time about their mental health conditions during a parliamentary debate.
Ruby's lively celebrity interviews are well known, but this documentary casts the straight-talking actress and comedian in a new light, sharing her own vulnerabilities with humour and warmth, while mentoring and empowering people to open up about their mental illnesses.
As well as performing her hit show, Ruby explores her life-long battle with depression and goes back to the places that were important on her journey, including the Priory Hospital.
Her husband Ed Bye and her three grown-up children also give their own moving and frank accounts of facing this challenge with Ruby.
The show opened my eyes to a lot of staggering facts. Currently in the UK there is no legislation to prevent against the discrimination of an individual with a mental illness, and as a result of this 1 in 5 people who tell their employer about their mental illness are fired as a result. As a society we have built a wall around the topic of mental health, and anyone who tries to knock that wall down is quickly shunned and labelled a crazy person.
As I watched the show I realised that when I fill out a job application, I have never once divulged that I have suffered with Depression for over 5 years, and in any jobs I have had I have never told anyone about it. I am an enabler of the taboo and I hadn't even realised it. Well not any more. I think it's about time we bulldozed the wall and started openly discussing Mental Health.
It seems ridiculous to me that a condition that only worsens by not talking about is one of the few things left in society that no-one feels comfortable talking about. Here are some facts from the Mental Health Foundation:
- 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem in the course of a year
- Mixed anxiety and depression is the most common mental disorder in Britain
- About 10% of children have a mental health problem at any one time
- Suicides rates show that British men are three times as likely to die by suicide than British women
- Self-harm statistics for the UK show one of the highest rates in Europe: 400 per 100,000 population
25% of people are going to suffer from a mental illness in the next year alone, yet we are expected to not talk about it? This is the real madness in society. It's about time we stood up and started talking.
Does anyone have any stories on the subject? Have you been discriminated against because of a Mental Health issue? Are you suffering in silence right now? I urge you to please leave a comment below and share your story.
- VIDEO: Ruby Wax on mental health documentary
- Fears stop parents seeking help
- Channel 4 Goes Mad (and maddens)