Ruby Wax is appointed Chancellor of Southampton University – with a focus on mental health

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This is very refreshing news. American actress, comedian, mental health campaigner, lecturer and author, Ruby Wax has been appointed Chancellor of Southampton University.

Southampton University is a research-intensive establishment with around 25,000 students. It is a founding member of the leading Russell Group of British Universities. Its notable alumni have included Chris Packham, Jon Sopel, Justine Greening, Brian Eno and Dame Wendy Hall. Previous Chancellors have included the 4th and 7th Dukes of Wellington.

Best known for her extensive comedy and documentary work on television, Ruby Wax is also well-known as a major advocate for mental health, bringing issues to the foreground in Parliament, and other fora, through her role as Patron for the British Neuroscience Association and as an ambassador for the charities MIND and SANE. It is through her services to mental health that Ms Wax was awarded an OBE in 2015.

Following her own experience of clinical depression, which she has made public through her writing and performing in an effort to help others, Ms Wax studied for a Master’s degree in Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy at the University of Oxford. As Visiting Professor in Mental Health Nursing at the University of Surrey, she contributes to research, curriculum development, teaching and public engagement.

Ms Wax has now written three books including the number one bestseller Sane New World: Taming the Mind. Her latest UK tour is based on her newest best-selling book, How to be Human: The Manual.

Ruby Wax said about her appointment:

I’m thrilled and honoured to take up the role of Chancellor for the University of Southampton. I’m looking forward to getting to know more about the University and particularly keen to engage with Southampton’s students, staff and graduates across its wide range of subjects and activities which I find inspiring.

I also hope to engage the University community more closely in my activities focused on mental health so that together we can explore how to overcome the stigma of mental health in society, especially amongst younger generations.

It’s worth noting that the Mental Health Foundation have highlighted a “mental health crisis” in universities.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.