Ruby Barker, known for her role in the hit Netflix series Bridgerton, recently shared her experience of suffering two psychotic breaks and the lack of support she felt from both Netflix and Shondaland during those difficult times. Barker’s revelations came during her appearance on Oxford University’s LOAF Podcast.
Barker’s first psychotic break occurred just one week after filming for the first season of Bridgerton wrapped in 2019. The second episode took place in 2022. During the podcast, Barker expressed that she believed her mental health crisis was somewhat concealed and kept under wraps, likely because the first season was set to premiere.
While her deteriorating mental health during the first season of Bridgerton went unnoticed, Barker felt that her experiences on set were challenging, describing her character as alienated and ostracized. The lack of support, both during and after filming, left her feeling as if she was “deteriorating.” In her view, there was no tangible support from the production team or the network, and she didn’t receive the assistance she needed.
According to Barker, no one from Netflix or Shondaland reached out to inquire about her well-being or to offer post-production care or support. This lack of support was particularly difficult for Barker to navigate, given that her life changed drastically overnight after the show’s first season achieved enormous success. The pressure to promote the show as light-hearted and fun while grappling with her own mental health struggles weighed heavily on her.
During promotional appearances, Barker felt compelled to present herself as if everything were fine. She felt as though she had a metaphorical “gun to her head” to sell the show and was worried that her mental health struggles might negatively impact her career. Bridgerton marked a significant breakthrough for her, and she was not yet an established figure in the entertainment industry.
In May 2022, after a second psychotic break, Barker informed her followers that she had recently been hospitalized. She revealed that she had been “unwell for a really long time” and had been “struggling since Bridgerton.” At that time, she expressed her gratitude to Shonda Rhimes and Shondaland for providing her with an opportunity and for “saving” her during her mental health challenges.
In the aftermath of her struggles, Barker has worked on better managing her feelings of being “overwhelmed.” She has turned to activities such as exercise, music, and taking her dog for a walk to help maintain her mental well-being.
Barker’s story serves as a reminder of the importance of mental health support within the entertainment industry and highlights the need for accessible resources for actors and crew members dealing with the pressures and challenges of their work. Her experiences also underscore the importance of organizations taking proactive steps to prioritize the mental health of their talent and provide adequate resources and support when needed.