Former Herts and Essex High School student leads mental health crusade
Former Herts and Essex High School student Natasha Devon, who was awarded an MBE for her work educating young people about positive body image, is now on a mental health crusade.
She has teamed up with charities to create a seven-point mental health charter for newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, bloggers and YouTubers.
The charter, which was compiled in association with the Samaritans, Mental Health First Aid England and Beat, has so far been endorsed by Girlguiding, The Coalition for Men & Boys and the Labour Campaign for Mental Health.
It lists dos and don’ts for the media when discussing or depicting mental health stories. It includes suggestions such replacing the term “committed suicide”, which suggests that the act is a crime, with ‘ended their own life’.
Natasha said: “If my decade as a campaigner working in this field has taught me anything, it’s that language and imagery matters when it comes to shaping social attitudes. I do a lot of work in schools and pupils often bring thoughts they have picked up about mental illness from media outlets into the classroom.
“This isn’t an attempt to curtail freedom of speech, but rather asking the media to be more thoughtful in the way they describe and depict mental illness. The more media outlets sign up, the greater the step towards genuinely educating people about mental health and reducing stigma around mental illness”.
Over the past decade, the 36-year-old has been a regular visitor to the Warwick Road secondary through her work with charity Body Gossip and her social enterprise The Self Esteem team.
She was also the Department for Education’s first-ever mental health champion for schools and is a writer and media pundit.