Shelagh Fogarty is Leading Britain's Conversation.
Natasha Devon was appointed as the government’s Mental Health “Tsar”. She tells LBC how her work was ignored before she was forced out.
The mental health campaigner was appointed by the Department for Education to be its children’s mental health expert. It was made clear that she would be completely impartial in her work, to the point that she would not be paid for the role.
With mental health problems amongst children rising at an alarming rate, Natasha’s appointment appeared to be a sign that the government was ready to tackle the problem seriously. Nine months later Natasha’s recommendations had been ignored, her role marginalised and eventually she was forced out of the role.
Natasha Devon explains why the rise of mental health problems in children can be traced to the education policies of Michael Gove.
Since being forced out of her role, Natasha has used a Freedom of Information request to obtain government emails and messages about her and her role, which reveal their lack of desire to listen to or implement Natasha’s recommendations.
Being a committed campaigner who believed she could make a real difference in her role, Natasha was not willing to be an obedient servant whose name could be used to give legitimacy to the government’s approach to mental health.
The disagreement between Natasha and the civil service eventually saw them marginalise her and leverage her out of her role.