It’s amazing how a chance meeting can lead to an amazing opportunity. I was delivering on a MHFA England course a few years ago when one of the delegates looked familiar – I soon realised it was Natasha Devon MBE who uses her passion from her lived experience, campaigns tirelessly to reduce stigma and raise awareness about mental health, body image and gender equality, alongside creating amazing projects like the MH Media Charter and Where’s Your Head At?How does she have the time?! I was a bit star-struck, but managed to stumble the courage to talk to her and even get a dodgy picture ( I looked dodgy not her!). I am so glad I did as it led to this…
I was so excited to hear that Natasha was writing a book and then felt honoured when she asked me my thoughts on self-harm for it. I never expected it would form a full chapter of The book, ‘A Beginners Guide to Being Mental; An A – Z’. When you get it (which you should!) self-harm is under ‘J’ for ‘Just Attention Seeking’. I shared my views on self-harm and those who have heard me speak know that I am very passionate about language use. ‘Just attention seeking’ is the most common phrase I hear around self-harm and it is so dismissive. Self-harm is, for the vast majority, a symptom of underlying distress.
The whole book is brilliant. It’s written in a way that it doesn’t have to be read at once or in order. It’s not full of academic language, but at the same time is academic and informative – it’s relatable and has humour. It provides not just information on some of the issues that individuals can experience, but also ways to look after yourself.
I recommend this book to everyone, professionals, parents, carers, young people, gerbils, fish, teddy bears. It’s well worth having it in your home, school, organisation, surgery as a ‘table book’ that can be picked up and read at leisure. A letter a day will help reduce stigma and improve knowledge. Not quite the same ring as the famous ‘an apple a day…’ but you know what I mean!
I would just like to thank Natasha again for consulting me on the chapter for self-harm, but also for writing the book, a much needed resource in todays society.