Devon Robb, Mental Health Ambassador on coping with change

The Mental Health Ambassador project is a partnership between the Mental Wealth Academy and Oxfordshire Youth, bringing together a group of 18-25-year-olds with lived experience of mental health.

Through the project, they are sharing advice and skills with the younger generation aged 11-17, opening up discussions on what mental health means and equipping them with tools to manage and protect their own wellbeing.

As many young people look towards preparing for new pathways this autumn, we sat down with Mental Health Ambassador, Devon Robb, to discuss ways you can protect your mental health while coping with times of change.

What would your advice be to anyone who is coping with change?

Devon:  “I know for a lot of people, times of change, like leaving school, can be very anxiety filling and stressful. Working out what you’re going to do after getting your results is a big decision to make for a lot of people.

“Looking back, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do when I got my results. For me, dealing with that period of change mostly meant taking time to consider my options and focussing on what I could do, rather than what I couldn’t.

“My greatest advice to put forward to anyone else in a similar situation, is to allow yourself space and time to really think about what your options are. Don’t think about the restrictions too much, because nine times out of ten, if you’ve got the right support around you, you’ll figure out what it is you want to do and find a way to do it.

“Whether you’ve just finished your GCSEs, A-Levels or a vocational qualification, know that you have many options. There is a wide spectrum to choose from. Honestly, it just comes down to working out what you’re interested in the most, and what you think you’re capable of taking on.

“There are still many options you can do even if you get low grades. No grade can define your sense of self-worth.”

“Looking back, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do when I got my results. Dealing with that period of change mostly meant giving myself time to consider my options and focussing on what I could do, rather than what I couldn’t.”

Devon Robb
Mental Health Ambassador

What would be your top advice when dealing with 

Devon: “I was hoping to get good enough grades to get into a media development course at Abingdon and Witney College, but unfortunately, I came just short of enough points to get into the course I wanted. It was a little bit of a downer, but the positive thing that came out of it was finding out about a different course I could take that I hadn’t even previously considered.

This is why I always say that even if your grades aren’t what you hoped for, you can still get into other things, you have options. Vocational studies courses can be a good stepping stone onto other things and allow you to pick up credits along the way, which can bump up your grades. This was a good way for me to figure out what I eventually wanted to do.

Although, I started out wanting to work in film production and then animation and gaming, I ultimately found myself happiest working in music and sound production. However, I may not have realised this or improved chances to access a music course, had I not taken the route I took to get here.

“Even if your grades aren’t what you hoped for, always remember, they don’t define you. You can still get into other things, you have options.”

Devon Robb
Mental Health Ambassador

What advice would you give to someone feeling under pressure to make a big decision?

“It’s great to talk to your friends and get a rounded picture, but don’t follow just out of fear of working out what it is you want to do. Ultimately it is your decision. So, go with your gut instincts.

“Listening to your own needs takes practice. To help you work out how you feel about something, try imagining a decision as made, such as starting a course in a particular subject, and consider how this would make you feel. This exercise can be a good way to sense if something is right for you.

“By stepping out of your comfort zone and exploring different paths, you might stumble a little along the way, but that will make you appreciate your successes all the more when they finally happen.”

Devon Robb
Mental Health Ambassador

“Shifting your mindset to embrace a sense of flow can also be useful for adapting to change. Taking a step back from your day to day situation and building in some reflective time can help you see the bigger picture.

“Whatever stage of life, you can always pause and consider your options. It’s important to remember that if something isn’t working, making a change or switching direction can be a good thing.”

If you’re a young person aged 16-25 experiencing mild-moderate mental health needs, or a family member who would like to support them, you can find out more and make a referral to the Mental Wealth Academy via the link below.