Writer, broadcaster and activist Natasha Devon MBE joined us on Wednesday 24th January to talk to Senior students about a variety of topics relating to mental health and wellbeing. Natasha has a long history of working in the public sphere advocating for improved mental health services and awareness. The Department for Education appointed Devon as its first ever mental health champion for schools in 2015. Later, in 2017, Devon launched the Mental Health Media Charter: a set of seven simple guidelines ensuring that imagery and language used in mental health reporting are responsible, genuinely educational and stigma-reducing.
The first of her talks was with our Year 7 and 8 students, addressing social media and the related impacts it can often have on self-esteem. Topics included: understanding why tech is addictive; How to limit time spent on gaming and social media; The dangers of polarisation of opinion/radicalisation; How comparing ourselves to others on social media affects self-esteem and body image; Finding online role models who are realistic, challenging, inspiring, or positive.
Next, Year 9 and 10 students joined Natasha to listen to her talk focusing on Weight, Health and Body Image – topics covered: Understanding beauty ideals as a social construct; How body image satisfaction impacts other areas of our lives; Understanding how social media influences body image; Debunking some of the common myths around the relationship between weight and health; Finding online role models and practising digital self-care.
Natasha also spoke with our Year 12 students about ‘Transitions and Mental Health’: Numerous studies have identified the transition from school, college or sixth form to university or work to be a point of vulnerability when it comes to young people’s mental health. Whilst 50% of symptoms of mental illness manifest by the age of 14, 75% are present by the age of 21 for this very reason. In this talk, Natasha drew on her experience as Trustee of the charity Student Minds and fellow of University of Wales to give tips on how to prepare emotionally and psychologically for this transition, as well as signposting to where young people can get help if they are struggling.
We are grateful to Natasha for joining us at Wakefield Girls’ and speaking with our students about her own experiences and sharing inspiration of how to better boost our wellbeing and resilience to overcome challenges we all face in our modern world. Similarly, a big thank you to our Senior PTA, for generously arranging this talk for students.
Mr J Harris
Deputy Head: Pastoral