Judith Owen a mental health hero

Mental health hero - Judith Owen

By Charlotte Fantelli

Video: Here by Judith Owen, Directed by Jamie Lee Curtis, You Tube.

Back when we started Uncovered magazine we wanted to do a series on inspiring people who have done so much for mental health. Today it is the turn of Judith Owen.

Who is Judith Owen?

You may know Judith for her music, a career that has seen her recently release her seventh album The Beautiful Damage Collection . The combination of her stunning voice that combines the qualities of power and delicacy so seamlessly, and her heart felt lyrics, have won her critical acclaim.

The Los Angeles Times has described Owen as “a drier, hipper Norah Jones who is whip smart, soulfully cool and deeply introspective.” After seeing the video above it is easy to see why. But it is not the voice, the musical ability or comic talents that we are here to discuss, these achievements would be incredible for anyone, but for Judith it has been a more incredible journey, as her personal battle with depression has been her biggest mountain to climb.

Married to Simpson's voice artist and Spinal Tap actor/co-creator Harry Shearer , Judith Owen has spent much time in US, but is thrilled to be back performing on her home turf.

I meet up with Judith backstage at The Mernier Chocolate Factory after the 'Losing it?' mental health forum.

The interview

So Judith I have just been in the forum and I want to tell you what an awesome experience it was for me. What a fabulous idea to have these 'drop in' sessions, how did they come about?

Well, Ruby and I wanted to create a place where people could come and be educated and share. We wanted to up the game and get some fabulous speakers.

And how have the public responded to the forums?

The public response has been overwhelming, we have had some massively personal admissions, we have had men in Newcastle coming forward about their problems for the first time. People in London saying 'Thank you, now I know I am not the only one!' Wherever we have taken the forums they have had a great response.

For you what has been the highlight of the 'Losing It?' tour so far?

For me the personal highlight was coming home to the UK. To be able to come home and talk about the illness that made me leave has been the greatest gift.

I also get to share my love of music which for me means so much. Music is my communication and my calmer.

Can you tell me a little bit about how you got here and why 'Losing it?' began?

I was terribly ill when I left the UK (depression) I got the help I needed although my recovery has taken years, my music career carried on and when my husband introduced me to his ex girlfriend Ruby Wax we were a match made in heaven.

Not at first, at first we both had that bulshy front, but we soon realised we had so much in common. We both wanted to reach the people who felt like we did.

I was really touched today, it was as if I was hearing this information for the first time, even though I work in mental health and have first hand experience, it must be like that for you, hearing all the stories and the feedback?

The other week we had a speaker who was a neuroscientist and when he spoke about stuff that had happened to me, it was like I was hearing it for the first time. We have met some incredible people. Another highlight for me has been meeting Marjorie Wallace, that woman is a powerhouse. I am so respectful of her and the work she has done, I am in awe.

Something struck me as I was in the forum, by being so open about your life on stage, you and Ruby are then giving permission to the audience to do the same, it is a wonderful achievement.

People are looking for the permission to speak and we are saying 'it's ok to talk about it'. It is liberating, soothing and cathartic.

Thanks to Judith for her time and the wonderful work she continues to do to educate others about mental health and breaking down the stigma. You can find out more about Judith Owen on her website www.judithowen.net, please also see the links below.

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