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Natasha Devon, MBE, visits Sheffield Girls’ to discuss the complexities of teenage friendship and new book Toxic

Yesterday we were delighted to host a visit from Natasha Devon, MBE. A mental health campaigner, journalist, broadcaster and now Young Adult author, Natasha joined some of our Senior and Sixth Form students for a discussion about topics which feature in her recently published book Toxic.

Exploring themes of friendship and sisterhood, our pupils heard about the meaning behind the characters in the book and enjoyed a Q&A with the author who offered advice about the complexities of teenage friendship.

Natasha received her MBE in 2015 for services to young people, and later that year was appointed as the government’s Mental Health Champion. Having moved on from that role, she now regularly visits schools, colleges, universities and events across the world, speaking to young people, delivering talks and undertaking research on mental health, body image, gender and social equality.  

Natasha’s research has revealed that while many students feel they know how to deal with issues within romantic relationships, they want more advice about how to behave when their platonic relationships go wrong, and would like in most cases to reach out to other friends rather than parents or teachers. Toxic, her second novel, covers both the magnificence and the darker aspects of teenage female friendships: mental health, race & privilege, and social media amongst others. 

Exploring all elements of positive mental health and supporting our pupils with their developing and changing friendships is pivotal to our pastoral support structures at Sheffield Girls’ and Natasha’s visit is part of a full year of activities, lessons, workshops and events in support of this.

The drive to promote good mental health also comes from our students themselves and the GDST’s Student ‘Wellbeing Well’ initiative contains practical online tips to maintain mental wellness that have been submitted by pupils from across the family of schools.

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