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  • Laura Wallis

Why Debating?

Updated: Oct 31, 2018



Debate is the formal discussion, presentation and consideration of both sides of a particular argument. It’s often associated with private schools and politicians, but we’re using it to empower young people with mental health needs to speak out on the mental health topics that matter to them. Why? Put simply, it’s because we believe that learning to debate offers a number of benefits for ALL children and young people, but that these benefits are likely to be greater for children and young people with experiences of having mental health needs.


What can debate do for young people with mental health support needs?


The main identified benefits for young people are:


· Research skills;

· Team working;

· Empathy;

· Learning how to use their voice;

· Competition;

· Empowerment;

· Structuring an argument;

· CV-skills;

· Interview and workplace skills;

· Self-esteem and confidence;

· Resilience.


Participation in formal debate has a number of benefits for children and young people, as outlined above. However, these benefits may be even greater for children and young people with mental health support needs, as many of these young people will have experienced issues with low self-esteem and low self-confidence. Problems with low self-esteem and low self-confidence may prevent young people from fully engaging at school or with mental health services and professionals they may be in contact with. By empowering young people to speak out and be heard through debating, we support them to realise that their voice is powerful and that what they have to say is important. They also learn how to say what they have to say in a way that means they will be heard. That’s important because when children and young people believe in themselves, they engage better in school and feel hopeful for their futures, which improves their chances of success in whatever they decide they want to do.

Naz, a participant of a number of our programmes and opportunities said:

"Since joining Debating Mental Health in 2017, I've managed to step out of my comfort zone and push myself to achieve goals I used to think were impossible. Debating Mental Health has helped me break out of my shell and meet amazing people, it’s so important that us young people have a platform to express our views on mental health."


We think debating and the skills it teaches are important for all young people, we think it is especially helpful for young people with mental health needs. We invite you to explore our website and get in touch to learn more about how debating could support the young people in your organisation.


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