Founder of the Self-Esteem Team - Helping Teenagers with Mental Health, Body Image and Self-Esteem
Natasha Devon is a writer, TV pundit and founder of the Self-Esteem Team (www.selfesteemteam.org) who have delivered classes on mental health and body image into more than 200 schools and colleges throughout the UK.
Natasha has been named Cosmopolitan's 'Ultimate Woman of the Year' 2012, a Mental Health Association 'hero' and one of Ernst & Young's Top 50 Social Entrepreneurs. In 2014 the Self-Esteem Team won an award at the House of Commons recognising their services to education.
Natasha's latest book 'Fundamentals: A Guide for Parents & Teachers on Mental Health & Self-Esteem' is available on now.
Princess Kate is entirely correct, there is still a social stigma surrounding mental health and that prevents people from seeking and receiving the help they need. Yet suggesting mental health issues always have a dramatic cause feeds into that stigma.
Making huge, sweeping generalisations about the particulars of a person's lifestyle based on how they look is not only fist-gnawingly unfair, it's preventing overweight people from getting the medical care they need and deserve (and it's keeping the <em>Daily Mail </em>in business).
Whilst I cannot condone the way in which your policies have in my opinion ostracised those young people whose talents fall outside the traditionally academic, I am actually writing to outline how our classes and other expertly delivered emotional education can and are assisting you in your agenda...
Last Wednesday, 28 November 2012, a 15-year-old student from Cambridge stood in front of members of the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge, five hundred of her peers and representatives from the World press and proudly declared that she is a lesbian, whilst doing the 'rock' sign.
Switch on your television, flick through a magazine or browse the internet and you'll be assaulted by headlines tempting you to behold the spectacle of "the 63 stone man!", the "anorexic who weighs the same as your average five year old!", or "the model whose desperate bid for success ended in botched cosmetic surgery!".
Picture the scene. I've just taught a co-ed year seven class, at an endearingly lovely state school, in the posh end of Hertfordshire. The teachers have whipped the students (and themselves) into a state of frenzy, convinced they have a 'celeb' in their midst (largely based on my regular appearances on Radio 5 and the fact that I know Gok Wan, I am later to discover).
A young female rioter famously told a BBC cameraman at the time "we want to show what we can do", which is of course a euphemism for 'look at us!'. The message was clear - we'd made Britain's teenagers feel undervalued for far too long and now we were in the midst of their collective temper tantrum.
23/01/2012 22:37 GMT
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