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 current mental health stage show, during which the audience is encouraged to speak openly about their own experiences, Ruby is passionate about making this documentary as part of the 4 Goes Mad season, in which she 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, even their friends.
Ruby also takes her cause right to the heart of UK government going 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 own battle with clinical depression became public knowledge after she agreed to be involved in a high profile poster campaign by Time To Change - a mental health anti-stigma programme run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness. Her photograph was used throughout the London Underground as one of the ‘One in Four' people who has a mental illness. Ruby was hesitant, but decided to embrace her newly found status by writing and performing a comedy show about her experience of mental illness, with audience members often revealing their own conditions for the first time. As Ruby says: ‘Why is it that every other organ can get sick and you get sympathy, except the brain? Stigma is the real illness and it's at its worst in the workplace, so that's what we're focusing on.'
Ruby's lively celebrity interviews are well known, but this documentary casts the straight-talking actress and comedian in a new light - candidly sharing her own vulnerabilities with humour and warmth, whilst mentoring and empowering people to open up about their mental illnesses. Ruby also brings a depth of understanding to the subject matter as she is currently studying for an MA in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Mindfulness at Oxford University.
In the film, Ruby is also shown performing her hit show, which 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.
Ruby also inspires the three businesspeople to take the plunge and talk openly and honestly about their mental health to the people in their life for the first time.
Derek Muir, 30, is a bright and dynamic award-winning design engineer. He has a top job as an Innovation Engineer and lives with his young family in Durham. Derek is working hard and is successful, but has been keeping a secret from his colleagues. All his adult life, Derek has struggled with depression and a year ago it became overwhelming. For the sake of his baby daughter, Derek decided to seek proper help and took four weeks off work to recover after talking confidentially to his HR manager. Now he wants to tell boss, colleagues and friends the real reason he took that month off work. On Derek's journey, he meets an array of high profile characters who have all had to face mental illnesses.
Charlotte Fantelli, 28, has set up her own successful internet business and is married with a four-year-old son. She has suffered with OCD and anxiety all her life. Six years ago, during a difficult time also dealing with agoraphobia, Charlotte did not leave the house for months. Having overcome the worst of her illness, she is now taking life head on whilst juggling motherhood, OCD and a career. Charlotte has just taken on a senior marketing role at a new technology company and while she's been open about her illness in all other aspects of her life, she wants to tell colleagues in her new role why she will not make tea, shake hands or even go into the kitchen.
Forty-four-year-old chef Johnnie Mountain owns a prestigious restaurant in the heart of Westminster called The English Pig. Working in what he calls a macho and competitive industry, Johnnie's got bags of talent and charisma, but has battled with self-diagnosed depression all his life. He wants to open up to his employees so they understand his illness and inspire them to talk to him about their own problems they may face.