DfE appoints television pundit as schools 'mental health champion'

By Neil Puffett

| 30 August 2015

A writer and television pundit has been appointed as a mental health champion for schools by the Department for Education (DfE).

Childcare minister Sam Gyimah describes Natasha Devon as an "inspiration to many young people". Picture: DfE

The DfE said Natasha Devon was chosen for the role due to her extensive work with young people, including launching two organisations that give young people practical tips on dealing with mental health and body image concerns.

Childcare Minister Sam Gyimah, who is also responsible for strengthening Department for Education links with child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), said: "Natasha is an inspiration to many young people and I’m delighted to have her on board as our first mental health champion.

“I know that together we can make a real difference in encouraging more young people to talk openly about mental health.”

“Ensuring young people have access to good mental health support is vital. That is why we are promoting greater use of counselling in schools, improving teaching about mental health, and supporting joint working between mental health services and schools."

Devon said mental health problems have a tangible impact not only on young people's happiness, but also their potential.

"It’s therefore vital that we can improve the support available for children and teens," she said.

“This is a cause that’s very close to my heart, and I know from personal experience, as well as from the young people I have met, how crucial this work is. I’m looking forward to getting started and making a difference.” 

As founder of projects including the Self-Esteem Team and the Body Gossip Education Programme, Devon has delivered classes to more than 50,000 teenagers, as well as their parents and teachers.

The move to appoint her as schools mental health champion comes as part of a wider government commitment to improve children and young people’s mental health.

The government has pledged to invest £1.25bn in young people’s mental health over the next five years.

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