Broadcaster Ray D’Arcy has been awarded an honorary fellowship by the Royal College of Surgeon Ireland (RCSI).
RTE Radio 1’s weekday afternoon show host has been recognised for his many years of mental health advocacy, including “compassionate interviews” that have given a voice to hundreds of people.
The honour was awarded by RCSI’s Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery, the highest accolade that it bestows on an individual.
The accolade is reserved for those who have made “an outstanding contribution to the professions of nursing, midwifery or a related field or have significantly contributed to the health and well-being of society”.
Previous recipients include Mother Teresa, President Mary McAleese, children’s rights campaigner Christina Noble and businesswoman Norah Casey.
The RTE star, who holds a degree in psychology, has regularly allowed people from all walks of life to speak about their experiences of mental health, while also hosting professionals including Dr Harry Barry and Dr Colman Noctor.
Dr Mary Boyd, who is Dean of the RCSI Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery, said Ray D’Arcy’s “ability to conduct compassionate interviews has made a significant difference to people’s lives”.
She said he was “providing those in mental distress with a platform for discussion, support and advice and we see his work as being hugely influential in this regard.”
Dr Boyd said mental health was a fundamental strategic education and research area linked to the global non-communicable disease agenda.
“An essential part of this agenda is the need to create a voice and a space to discuss mental health and empower people to take control of their treatment and management of mental health issues,” she said.
Expressing his honour at receiving the fellowship, Ray D’Arcy said he was accepting it on behalf of “the hundreds of people who’ve shared their mental health stories with me over the years, sometimes publicly for the first time”.
He said it was “obvious to me that a lot of these people had no voice, it was a privilege to provide them with a platform and in doing so advocate for better mental health services and reduce the stigma around mental illness.”