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A new era in positive mental health - celebrated campaigner visits King Edward's Witley


Pupils at King Edward’s Witley and Barrow Hills received a special visitor recently when writer and activist Natasha Devon MBE presented a series of targeted talks to pupils, teachers, parents and staff titled ‘Where’s your Head at?’ to mark World Mental Health Day 2018.

Natasha Devon MBE is a celebrated writer, speaker and campaigner who has dedicated her life to promoting positive mental health, body image, gender and social equality.

Named as one of the 500 most influential people in Britain in 2015, Ms Devon visits schools and colleges throughout the UK delivering presentations and conducting research with teenagers, teachers and parents.

Each of her series of talks at the School was well attended and tailored to the age of the audience. This included Barrow Hills’ pupils (Years 7 and 8) and Years 9, 10, 11 and Sixth Form from King Edward’s, as well as teachers and parents.

‘Where’s your Head at?’ aims to change the law to further protect our mental health and just two days prior to her visit to the School, she presented a petition containing more than 200,000 signatures to Downing Street. The campaign has gained the support of celebrities including Rachel Riley, Ortis Deley, Tom and Giovanni Fletcher, Megan McKenna, Charlotte Crosby and Peter Andre. Her Mental Health Media Charter supporters include Beverley Knight, Stephen Dixon (Sky News), Vanessa Feltz and Emma Kenny (This Morning).

During her talks Ms Devon covered topics such as coping with stress, positive mental health, body image awareness and gender divide.

According to the Mental Health Foundation increasing numbers of schoolchildren are struggling to cope with their mental health amidst rising rates of depression, anxiety and self-harm. Ms Devon believes good mental health is fundamental to enable children and young people to thrive in life and says it’s vital to tackle mental health problems early.

A recent YouGov survey of 1,323 schoolchildren in Britain determined how feelings of being 'worried or sad' affected their wellbeing and behaviour, finding that:

- nearly four in ten (38%) said that it caused them difficulty with going to sleep
- more than a quarter (27%) said they got into fights or arguments
- more than one in four (26%) said that it caused them to struggle to do their homework
- more than one in four (27%) didn’t want to be around others. *

Ms Devon said, “I want to make it easier to talk about mental health. Evidence shows that the earlier a mental health issue like stress, anxiety and depression is detected, the easier it is to manage and treat.”

Mrs Naomi Skau, PSHE Co-Ordinator who organised the visit said, “King Edward's has a long-standing tradition for its unrivalled commitment to pastoral care. One of our top priorities at King Edward’s is the health and wellbeing of our pupils. Particularly at a time when young people are facing unprecedented levels of pressure in life which can lead to anxiety and depression. Emotional wellbeing is critical to developing a healthy successful school community and we have key measures in place to encourage pupils to talk to their teachers about any issues or worries they are experiencing so they can be tackled early, and pupils are equipped to thrive in life.”

Published: October 29 2018

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