One of the UK’s leading mental health campaigners encouraged parents to help their children follow their individual journeys by letting them know they can talk about mental health openly without judgement, during a talk at BGS.
Natasha Devon, who was awarded an MBE for her services to young people and named one of the 500 most influential people in Britain, told parents at Bradford Grammar School about the unique functions of the developing brain and how the skills of critical thinking, healthy stress coping mechanisms and emotional literacy could be nurtured during this time.
Said Natasha, a former Government Mental Health Champion: “Mental health is about more than just talking. We need to be responsible, open and practical to find the right path for the individual. We often tell pupils that if they report bullying, it will stop, for example. In my experience, they quickly realise that it’s not quite as simple as that and this prevents them “telling” after future bullying incidents.
“Similarly, it would be irresponsible, as educators, to echo the celeb “just talk” narrative. We should instead say: “If you open up to me, I’ll listen and do everything I can to help you get any further help you need. It might take a while and it might not work first time, but I’ll support you, to the best of my ability, every step of the way.”
Natasha is a patron for the charity No Panic, which provides advice and support for people struggling with anxiety. She is a member of the Men & Boys Coalition, specifically consulting with them on reducing the rates of male suicide in the UK. She is also a certified instructor for Mental Health First Aid England and the eating disorder charity Beat.
Natasha was visiting Bradford Grammar School as part of Mental Health Awareness Week.
She added: “I was delighted to be invited to Bradford Grammar School. It’s clear the staff and students have a solid commitment to improving wellbeing and healthy lifestyles with far reaching benefits. Every young person should have access to mental health support.”
Jane Chapman, Assistant Head Pastoral, said: “It was great having Natasha come to BGS as part of our Mental Health Awareness Week programme. Her talk to parents was very well received and she shared practical tips about how to hold conversations about their mental health with young people, telling her own story to illustrate how the narrative of mental health conversations has changed in the past 20 years.
“She covered a wide range of themes including the inadequacies of language and delivered some really important messages about how we can help our children when they are struggling with poor mental health.”
“I was delighted to be invited to Bradford Grammar School. It’s clear the staff and students have a solid commitment to improving wellbeing and healthy lifestyles with far reaching benefits. Every young person should have access to mental health support.”