Prince Harry coos over babies and joins in ballet class at YMCA mental health visit

This afternoon The Duke of Sussex visited the YMCA England and Wales in South Ealing as part of his work in Mental Health.

Prince Harry saw how the YMCA is supporting teenagers across South London and met young residents who are living in YMCA accommodation.

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YMCA South Ealing is part of the YMCA St Paul’s Group, which provides services across London and is one of the largest in Europe. The association provides housing for 150 young people who are dealing with problems such as homelessness, mental illness or fleeing domestic violence.

More than 17,000 people are aided by the group’s mental health services in England and Wales every year, using a range of workshops and mediation services. The Queen has been patron of the National Council of the YMCA England and Wales since 1952, succeeding her father King George VI.

Harry met with the ‘Mental health Champions’ who provide a peer support programme in schools and around the community, education and awareness workshops and face-to-face counselling to those who need it.

prince harry visited the ymca in ealing today (@royalfamily)

The Duke of Sussex also met with parents and young children who use the nursery service run by the group and heard about the #IAMWHOLE campaign. The campaign, developed by the NHS and the YMCA, encourages young people to speak openly about their mental health issues.

The royal visitor told the parents that charities like the YMCA need to be better at telling the success stories; he said, “There is too much negativity surrounding mental health. No wonder it’s so hard for young people to actually talk about it.”

At the YMCA, The Duke took part in a roundtable meeting with UK’s leading mental health charities and organisations, convened by Heads Together, a campaign launched by The Royal Foundation two years ago. Prince Harry showed demonstrated how engaged he has been in recent years about the correlation between mental health and social media.

prince harry talks mental health at a roundtable discussion today (@royalfamily)

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He said, “Social media is more addictive than drugs and alcohol and it’s more dangerous because it is normalised and there are no restrictions.” Harry also called out the game Fortnite on the addictive pull it has on children.

Further on from the discussion, Harry remarked, “We are in an exciting time because everybody in this room has an opportunity to actually make a real difference so that young people coming through are less connected to their phones. They can be as connected as they want to be but they have to have human connection as well.

“Without that human connection when you do have a problem, you have nowhere to go and the only place you might go is online and you’re probably getting bullied.”

A highlight for Prince Harry was watching a ballet class for four to six year olds. The dancers performed a routine and received a big round of applause from Harry and the audience.

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Harry and the children were full of giggles when they had to balance on one foot as part of the class.

After the class, Harry asked the children how many rehearsals they have had before today and if their mums had come to watch them. There were laughs all round when a child, when asked by The Duke for how long they have done ballet, replied “100 years!”

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After the ballet class Harry met baby Naz, who is just 3 months old, and her mother, Maria Ahmad. Harry was very intrigued at the baby’s sleep patterns, as most parents-to-be are before the arrival of a baby.

Later, Maria said “He was asking about her sleeping. I think he’s worried about that, if the baby sleeps at night time.” The Duke and Duchess are expecting their baby this month.

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Yesterday, the couple launched their own Instagram page (@sussexroyal) and broke a Guinness World Record for the quickest time to reach 1 million followers – under six hours.


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