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Daily devotes special edition to mental health as guest editor takes over

A regional daily devoted yesterday’s edition to the subject of mental health as part of an ongoing campaign.

The Eastern Daily Press ran the special with guest editor Natasha Devon MBE, who served as the Department for Education as a mental health champion for schools between August 2015 and May 2016.

The takeover forms part of the EDP’s ongoing Mental Health Watch campaign, which aims to get better mental health provision for its patch.

As part of the project, the newspaper also published 30 piece online on Monday, as well as videos, and ran a Facebook Live debate about the issue.

EDP mental health

Editor David Powles said: “Our Mental Health Watch campaign has been something we’re very proud of, but 18 months down the line I felt it needed a bit of fresh impetus. ‘Takeover’ days like this are something I’d been keen on trialling for a while and this seemed the perfect subject to try it with.

“We were keen that while we didn’t gloss over issues, we also took a positive and productive approach and that’s where having Natasha involved really helped as she was able to guide us through the right messages to get across, as well as run the rule over our wording and picture use. The end result was some very powerful human stories and lots and lots of people and faces.”

The coverage was packaged into a 20-plus page print special in a bigger than usual newspaper.

David added: “The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive and hopefully we’ve done some good and made a difference, even if that is just to reinforce the over-riding message that ‘you are not alone’ if mental ill health is something you struggle with.

“If not over used I think ‘takeover’ days are a good way to devote a bit more time and effort to an important subject and help achieve one of our main aims, which is to set and lead the agenda and open up thought and debate.”