Ruby Wax to be keynote speaker at HeadStart conference

Mental health advocate and comedian Ruby Wax OBE will be a keynote speaker at a major conference in October organised by HeadStart Wolverhampton. 

Aimed at teachers, health professionals and voluntary sector staff who work with children and young people, the conference will focus on how they can support young people in improving their resilience and emotional wellbeing, with the aim of reducing the number who develop ongoing mental health issues.

The conference, organised by HeadStart Wolverhampton, the University of Wolverhampton, the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust, Young Minds and Time to Change, will also feature a number of workshops with experts from across the UK.

Ruby Wax has experienced episodes of depression for most of her life, and has used her experiences as part of her one-woman shows to break down the stigma associated with discussing mental health issues. She is the author of two best-selling books, Sane New World and A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled, and was awarded an OBE for Services to Mental Health in 2015. 

Ruby said: "Mental health issues are so common, and can affect anyone. The trouble is, nobody wants to talk about it and that makes everything worse. We need to take the stigma out of mental illness; people shouldn't be ashamed of it.

"It used to be the 'C' word – cancer – that people wouldn't discuss. Now it's the 'M' word. I hope pretty soon it'll be okay for everyone to talk openly about their mental health without fear of being treated differently.

“One in five people have dandruff. One in four people have mental health problems. I’ve had both."

Ruby will share her experiences as a keynote speaker at the HeadStart Wolverhampton conference at Wolverhampton Racecourse on Tuesday 3 October. Other keynote speakers are Paul McGee, who developed the SUMO (Stop, Understand, Move On) approach to resilience, and Dr Pooky Knightsmith, a mental health ambassador, educator and director of the Young People and Schools Programme at the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust.

Following the conference, an evening event will showcase the impact that HeadStart and its community partner organisations are having for young people in the City, including through activities for 10 to 16-year-olds and their families available in the HeadStart Summer Programme – www.headstartonline.co.uk/summer2017.

Places for the conference can be booked now by visiting www.headstartonline.co.uk/conference2017, with discounted tickets available for Wolverhampton school staff and local voluntary sector organisations.

Councillor Val Gibson, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: "The HeadStart Wolverhampton October conference is a golden opportunity for professionals who work with children and young people to contribute to a critical national debate, and to find out how HeadStart is making a difference to young people in Wolverhampton.

“We are particularly delighted that keynote speakers of the calibre of Ruby Wax, Paul McGee and Dr Pooky Knightsmith will be joining us at this very special event.”

HeadStart Wolverhampton, funded through The Big Lottery Fund, is a “test and learn” programme designed to improve the resilience and emotional well-being of children and young people aged 10 to 16 by giving them the skills they need to cope with life’s challenges.

To find out more about HeadStart, please visit www.headstartonline.co.uk.

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