‘There is a layer of children who are in quiet emotional distress and are under the radar’ - Mental health campaigner Natasha Devon meets Norwich pupils

Natasha Devon, mental health campaigner, speaks to students at the Norwich School about mental healt

Natasha Devon, mental health campaigner, speaks to students at the Norwich School about mental health and self esteem. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

Self-harming and developing an eating disorder are the two most likely mental illnesses to befall pupils at well-performing independent schools, an expert has said.

That's according to mental health campaigner Natasha Devon, who is currently touring ecuation establishments across the country to talk to children and teenagers.

Ms Devon used to be the government's schools' mental health champion, and has spoken about mental health on national TV and radio.

She gave two speeches to pupils at the Norwich School yesterday, which focused on critical thinking about social media, tackling stress, and how to talk about mental health.

Speaking afterwards to this newspaper she said the most common mental health problems for pupils at independent schools stem from the pressure of achieving good results because their parents have spent much money to secure a good education for them.

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And she said more investment is needed to help youngsters who do not qualify for NHS treatment but whose mental health problems cannot be addressed by an ordinary teacher.

'There is a layer of children who are in quite emotional distress and are under the radar,' she said.

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'There is no money available for that group. Some schools choose to spend money on addressing this but many schools don't.'

She said the rise in social media gives girls a narrow definition of what beauty is, and boys an impression that they must 'man up'. Part of her message to the pupils was therefore to think about how much of this one is exposed to on social media repetitiously. Organiser James Large, head of personal, social, and health education at the school, said: 'It's easy getting pupils through school with good grades - the difficulty is getting them through with good grades and that they feel happy in themselves.'

Have you got a mental health story? Email nicholas.carding@archant.co.uk

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