Pupils debate addresses mental health issues

Posted on Wednesday 28th February 2018
schools debate winning team Feb 2018

Winners Gulghatai Shah (Newport High); Izzie Mawhinney (Bassaleg School); Rvimbo Mukwenya (Newport High)

Pupils from secondary schools across Newport took part in a debate at Bassaleg School as part of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP) Debates.

It was organised by Professor Alka Ahuja, chair of the child and adolescent facility, RCP in Wales; Dr Christina Evans, principal educational psychologist for Newport City Council and Siobhan Conway, manager of RCP in Wales.

Professor Ahuja and Dr David Williams, divisional director of Family and Therapies, opened the debate on the motion "is school bad for your health".

Izzie Mawhinney, a year nine pupil from Bassaleg School, was the winner of the best individual speaker competition while Newport High School won the team event.

Judges Lowri Reed and David Tutton, of the Welsh Government, were impressed by the quality of the presentations. "We had a diverse range of speakers who presented with humour, passion and gravitas," said Lowri.

Dr Williams said: "I think it's great that mental health is so important. It's essential that we take it seriously. We don't mind saying we have a sore throat or a broken leg, but mental health has a stigma that needs to be challenged.

He added there were positive steps being taken in Wales to create a more joined-up approach to addressing the mental health needs of young people such as work being carried out in Newport High School.

As well as the debate, artwork, essays and poetry by pupils in Newport secondary schools was also on display.

Other winners included Taylor Grainger, of Llanwern High School, for art; Callum Harries, of Ty Du Tuition Group, for the essay category; Kiran Selwood, of Ysgol Gyfun Is Coed, for sculpture and Niamh Jones, of St Joseph's RC High School for poetry.

Councillor Gail Giles, Newport City Council's cabinet member for education and skills, said: "This was an excellent event and I would congratulate all those who took part and organised it.

"For too long, mental issues have been something that people didn't talk about and this has made life even more difficult for those who suffer. Hopefully, events such as this will help the younger generation be more open and seek help if they are facing such challenges."

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