Debating Mental Health: Anna Freud Young Champions put debating skills to use at Facebook HQ

15th May 2017 By: Anastasia Bow-Bertrand

The following news update is written by Jummy, a Young Champion at the Anna Freud National Centre, who shares her experiences of completing the London Debating Mental Health programme with a team of other Young Champions. 

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The debating mental health programme is an initiative for young people to develop debating skills and self-expression. The young people involved were put into teams and over a 12-week period we received training sessions from the English Speaking Union, to develop skills and knowledge on the following motions that we debated at the Grand Final:

  • Celebrities have a responsibility to talk about their own mental health.
  • Young people who use mental health services should elect representatives to advise government on mental health policy.
  • Living in an online world means that there are more pressures than ever on young people’s mental health.

Facebook were generous enough to host the final debate at their Headquarters, bringing together coaches, organisers and young people from mental services across Greater London. 

I felt a healthy balance of nervousness and excitement when I found out that I would be debating on the proposition argument for the first motion. I was looking forward to the debate and I had a rough idea of points but I was unsure of their relevance and mental health is such as sensitive topic. Nevertheless, I gave it my all, and I enjoyed giving a rebuttal to the other team; I felt it was all statements, such as saying celebrities are not in a place to take responsibility of their mental health and because they can’t do this themselves means that all celebrities can’t.

Following the final debates there was a showcase. It was here that the Anna Freud team really shone! We were the celebrities in town with our Hot Air Balloon Game, which no one else thought of, but I was still nervous and excited of how it would go. I performed my rendition, of why Trump should stay on the hot air balloon, and it was nice to see people actually loving Trump for once, but threw him off for obvious reasons. I did enjoy the creativity that the other groups brought, such as the flip game, which showed how debating can happen in any form, and be about anything.

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Overall, I enjoyed the Grand Final, staying to the last moment, until the space of the event had to be evacuated and I look forward to doing as many opportunities on debating or speaking about mental health in the future.

Indeed, my reasons for getting involved with Anna Freud as a Young Champion are simple: I am passionate about mental health, and this debating programme helped to increase my knowledge and absorb a wide range of views while enabling me to utilise my debate club skills gained at school in an actual competition.

I developed my confidence as a Young Champion when speaking about mental health and its impact, and look forward to the programme being repeated, hopefully with continued support from Facebook!

If you wish to find out more about the Debating Mental Health programme, head to their website here.

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