NATASHA DEVON mbe

36, CAM­PAIGNER

Women's Health (UK) - - STRENGTH IN NUMBERS -

‘Work­ing as an ad­vo­cate for young peo­ple’s men­tal health, I give talks to stu­dents at schools and uni­ver­si­ties. By 2016, I’d worked with over 75,000 young peo­ple and I was named a men­tal health tsar by the De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion. But after I spoke out against their poli­cies, I was sacked. The en­su­ing me­dia storm pushed me over the edge. The anx­i­ety I thought I’d dealt with in my early twen­ties resur­faced. The day I had a panic at­tack lying on my bed, I knew it was time to seek help again.

With hind­sight, I can see that the days when my anx­i­ety left me house­bound have ac­tu­ally made me bet­ter at my job. They re­minded me just how bru­tal men­tal ill­ness can be.

In the 18 months since, my re­cov­ery has in­volved a lot of trial and er­ror.

But with the help of a coun­sel­lor, I’m back to a place of rel­a­tive bal­ance.

NHS pro­vi­sions for men­tal health aren’t poor sim­ply be­cause of a lack of aware­ness – Gov­ern­ment spend­ing cuts play a part, too. So now we’re talk­ing, I want to en­cour­age ev­ery­one to get their voice heard. Sign that pe­ti­tion; write to your MP; go on a protest. We’ve all started some­thing – and it will take all of us to keep push­ing for­ward.’ A Be­gin­ner’s Guide To Be­ing Men­tal: An A-Z by Natasha Devon (Bluebird) is out on 31 May

‘Take ac­tion – we’ve got a long way to go’

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