The founder of the Self-Esteem Team and the Body Gossip Education Programme has been appointed an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for helping youngsters conquer mental health and body image issues.
Natasha Jade Devon, 34, of Acton, recovered from an eating disorder in 2006 and was left feeling her illness had robbed her of the potential she had as a healthy, confident teenager.
Her experience has inspired her to launch the two organisations which give young people practical tips on how to combat their issues.
The Body Gossip Education Programme was founded in 2007 and works to improve the self-esteem and body confidence of people of all backgrounds and ages throughout the UK, having been delivered to more than 100 schools and colleges.
After trialling her class Healthy Ways to Deal with Difficult Feelings, Ms Devon formed the Self-Esteem Team in 2012 and recruited musician Grace Barrett and showbiz editor Nadia Mendoza to teach her lessons.
To date, Ms Devon and her team have visited more than 200 schools throughout the UK and delivered classes to in excess of 50,000 teenagers, as well as their parents and teachers.
The Self-Esteem Team now also offer classes in coping with exam stress, conquering self-harm and dealing with problem skin.
For Mental Health Week this year, they launched a campaign aimed at preventing male suicide.
Ms Devon said: “I feel overwhelmed and I feel honoured. The idea there’s even an awareness of that level of what we are doing is amazing.
“I have been surprised by how many young people are struggling.
“It’s always good to be led by what young people need. When I first had the idea I interviewed hundreds of teenagers and said ‘how would you like to be taught?’
“They said they were fed up with being told about the problems without solutions, they wanted something practical.
“The feedback we have got is ‘thank you for not patronising us’, people say they just feel really happy now.
“My nan describes herself as my number one fan - I’m a little bit worried that when she finds out she might explode.”
The sessions work through testimonial, learning about the psychology, and looking at habits.
Ms Devon works alongside the All Parties Parliamentary Group on body image and is a pundit for ITV This Morning, Sky News & BBC Breakfast.
She also has a monthly column in Cosmopolitan Magazine ‘Natasha Devon’s Confidence Revolution’, as well as writing for the Telegraph and the Independent.
Natasha’s book Fundamentals: A Guide for Parents & Teachers on Mental Health and Self-Esteem was published in January 2015.
It will be followed by a book for teenagers by the Self-Esteem Team in August 2015.