Duchess Kate launches Heads Together ‘mentally healthy schools’ project

Earlier today, Kate launched a new mental health resource for primary schools during a visit to Roe Green Junior School in Kingsbury.

the duchess of cambridge launched a new teacher’s resource to help primary school students with their mental health (kensington palace)

The Duchess of Cambridge was at the school to officially mark the ‘Mentally Healthy Schools’ website, which is a resource bank aimed at giving teachers ways to support the mental health of their pupils, for a range of issues such as anxiety, to eating disorders to bereavement. The project is coordinated and financed by the Royal Foundation, which founded Heads Together.

The content will be provided in four main areas – teaching resources, risks and protective factors, mental health needs, and a whole school approach for school leaders.

Catherine, who is expecting her third child in April, was greeted by schoolchildren in the playground, singing ‘Life’s A Happy Song’ from The Muppets, and was presented with a bunch of yellow and white roses.

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Inside, the Duchess chatted to pupils as they worked, asking what they enjoyed about school.

Speaking about the engagement when it was announced, Kensington Palace said: “Teachers and staff play a pivotal role in a young person’s life, but they currently struggle to find the right resources in order to provide the most effective support for children in their care.

“Up until now, the array of online resources has been difficult to navigate; it is often unclear whether items are expertly verified, and teachers are often unsure how appropriate the advice is for their particular age-group or issue.”

duchess kate talks to students at roe green school today (kensington palace)

The project is a partnership between several charities including Contact, a collaboration of military support organisations; YoungMinds, a charity that helps children and young people suffering from mental health problems; and Best Beginnings, which supports the mental health of pregnant women and new mothers.

The Duchess also had the chance to speak with members of staff at the school, learning about their experiences with children’s mental health, and their hopes of how this resource can help them.

Catherine also gave an address to mark the beginning of the project: “What we have seen first-hand is that the simple act of having a conversation about mental health – that initial breaking of the silence – can make a real difference.

“But, as you here today know: starting a conversation is just that – it’s a start,” The Duchess of Cambridge said. “This is particularly true of the conversations that take place in our schools, and with our children.

“I see time and time again that there is so much to be gained from talking of mental health and taking the mental health of our children as seriously as we do their physical health.

“When we intervene early in life, we help avoid problems that are much more challenging to address in adulthood.

“My own commitment is to the youngest and most vulnerable in their early years – babies, toddlers and school-children – and to support all those who care for them,” Kate commented.

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“The role of teachers here is absolutely vital. You see our children as they grow, learn and play, as they build their social skills that will make the difference to their futures.”

Finally, the Royal asked for feedback on the resource bank: “I would ask each of you here today to work with the Foundation to develop this new essential resource. Please let us know what works, what doesn’t, and what else you would like to see. This project has been collaboration from day one. It will only succeed if we continue to work together.”

Currently, the website is being trialled in 50 schools, with the hope of a national roll-out by spring.

Sarah Hannafin, senior policy advisor at school leaders’ union NAHT, said of the project: “School leaders have been clear that they need access to high quality resources to help schools’ work in supporting children’s mental wellbeing.

“This new website will be a fantastic practical resource for schools, drawing together quality assured and useful information and resources into one place. We’d encourage all primary school leaders and their teams to bookmark it.”

Watch the Duchess’ full speech below:

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