Inspiring positive mental health and masculinity at CHS

In November 2023, CHS hosted a series of thought-provoking talks for Sixth Form students, tackling a number key issues surrounding mental health and masculinity. From this, students found a way to illustrate what they learned from these events, creating a short film for Mental Health Awareness Month. Find out more about each event and what the students created as a result. 

Angela Samata – Dealing with Mental Health

Year 13 students were given the opportunity to hear from mental health activist Angela Samata as part of the Beyond CHS lectures series. Samata came to prominance after a particularly impactful TEDx Talk on suicide prevention and after leading a BBC 1 award-winning documentary on the subject called Life After Suicde.

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Samata discussed the stigmas still surrounding mental health and offered guidance to those facing challenges, whether academic stress or personal issues. Her key takeaway was to empathise that no problem is too insignificant, she told the group, “Often, the smallest worries can linger within us for the longest time, never think your problem is too small.” Samata encouraged students to reach out and speak up, promoting the importance of seeking support and connections.

Dan Somers from MAN UP?

Another fantastic guest speaker who visited CHS was Dan Somers, founder of mental health charity MAN UP? Their mission is to challenge the barriers surrounding men’s mental health, and promote healthy conversations around it, especially within men and boys.

Research from The Priory shows that statistically, discussing mental health is a real barrier for lots of men in the UK. 40% said that it would ‘take thoughts of suicide or self harm to compel them to seek professional help.’ According to the NHS, only 36% of referrals for ‘talking therapies’ are male (65% female). 


Somers explained how the charity has harnessed the term ‘man up’, putting aside the perceived definition of knuckling down and getting on with it, with the Oxford Dictionary definition: ‘Be brave or tough enough to deal with a difficult or unpleasant situation’.

His advice to students was simple – listen to your friends when they appear distressed or sad rather than trying to fix problems. Learn more about this event by clicking here.

CHed Talks with Caitlin Moran

In November 2023, students and their parents had the opportunity to attend the latest CHed Talks event; featuring bestselling author and Times columnist Caitlin Moran. Usually focused on feminist issues, her latest book What About Men?, tackled conversations around toxic masculinity and the challenges faced by young men and women as a result. 

This subject made for a fascinating evening of discussion between the author and CHS Head Neil Smith, followed by a series of great and thought-provoking questions from the audience; covering everything from Andrew Tate to body positivity and more.

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One particularly interesting part of the discussion centered around modern role models, with Moran highlighting the plethora of fantastically positive characters in the public eye for girls, but less so for boys. Moran countered with a couple of inspirational figures, highlighting the social efforts of footballer Macus Rashford and a list of heart-warming tales about Hollywood star Keanu Reeves.

You can learn lots more about the evening by clicking here, and watch a roundup video of the evening by heading to the CHS YouTube channel.

Marking Mental Health Awareness Month

Inspired by the three fantastic speakers and the issues discussed during their visits, the Sixth Form Equality Society felt strongly that they needed to make the most of what they had learned. 

As part of Mental Health Awareness Month in November, the students created a short film around mental health in relation to sport. Watch the video here.

CHS as a Community

Head of Sixth Form, Mr Jones, commented, “As a co-ed school, it is important that we support both boys and girls as they navigate the challenges associated with mental health and the contemporary issue of masculinity within society. It becomes essential to create effective strategies within CHS and the Sixth Form to address these important issues directly.

As part of this commitment, we’ve hosted exceptional speakers who not only champion but also encourage positive mental health and modern attitudes towards masculinity. Our aim is to instil these attitudes within the student body. Ensuring they resonate beyond the school gates and guide them to carry this positive ethos into their later lives.

As part of the Schools efforts and strategies, CHS has been awarded the Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools ‘School Mental Health Award’ – Silver Status. Ensuring CHS are committed to strengthen mental health and wellbeing for the whole community. Read more about the award here.