The Princess of Wales and presenter Roman Kemp have taken part in a short conversation around mental health and the importance of it during the early years of childhood, as part of her Shaping Us campaign.
Roman is one of the Shaping Us champions, helping to spread the message further. He also attended the pre-launch event last Monday at BAFTA, where he was joined by other champions.
The Princess spoke to Roman about his own journey with mental health, a journey which made him ‘passionate’ to tackle the crisis around suicide and mental health.
Kemp explained how he ‘got into this [mental health] world in a way that no one really should do, and I wish I wasn’t associated with the word suicide’, as his best friend took his own life. He added how he had preconceived ideas as to what a suicidal person looked like, before the tragedy.
In August 2020, Roman’s life changed with the unexpected death of his best friend, radio producer, Joe Lyons.
Catherine praised the presenter for his 2021 documentary ‘Our Silent Emergency’ and the conversations that subsequently took place around it. He presented the documentary looking at the mental health crisis affecting young men and revealed he had considered taking his own life after battling depression for more than a decade.
When asked if his views had changed around mental health following the documentary, he replied that if we are going to ‘make a difference here, we’re gonna have to go younger. That’s what I think the work you’re doing is fantastic.,’ he told the Royal, ‘because really, that’s who we need to be targeting’.
— Roman Kemp (@romankemp) February 3, 2023
During the conversation, Kemp said that ‘friendship is the thing that will save lives’ and people not shying away from the topic of mental health with their peers.
Kate replied: ‘Everyone cares and takes a lot of time over their physical health but find it much harder to not only talk about their mental health but actually understand the ways in which we can look after ourselves.’
Roman asked the Princess what the early years work means to her, she replied how the focus is ‘from pregnancy to the age of five because it’s when our brains growing the fastest. It’s at its most malleable, so it’s really such a critical time to lay the foundations for our future.’
‘It’s a bit like building a house and without strong foundations without this sort of solid starting life, then those building blocks are much harder to build later on.’
The pair discussed how the early years was about giving children the chance to have a great childhood, but recognised not every child is given the opportunity. They said how with the ‘right support and the right interventions’ it can be done.
With the Princess having three children, Roman asked if she had learnt anything herself from working in this space.
She replied that the science behind the early years is her biggest takeaway, which highlights ‘the importance of having healthy and strong relationships in a child’s life is, having a nurturing environment and having experiences in which a child can really understand and discover not only themselves but also the world in which they live’.
‘You know these are the key things that you should really be focusing on early childhood because they set us up for so many things later on in.’
Together, we can build a society of healthy, happy adults for generations to come. pic.twitter.com/FpyzYViFi7
— The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood (@Earlychildhood) February 3, 2023
The future Queen then quizzed the radio presenter about his childhood to which he replied: ‘I always say the best part of my life is my family and it has shaped who I am. 100%. But again, it’s so difficult. All you need to do is look around at the country and see people not just struggling raising kids, they’re struggling to put a roof above their heads to being able to heat their house. All of those things can come into play.’
Roman is the son of Spandau Ballet star Martin Kemp and singer Shirlie Kemp.
Kate then commented: ‘Absolutely. And this is the thing, every family is different and the pressures that we all face are different. While raising the issue of early childhood, this isn’t about putting extra pressure on families, it’s actually saying that they need the support and the help and prioritising family life, home life and that it takes really in raising children today because it is tough.
‘The relationships within a family or surrounding a child is so important. The environment in which you bring up a child is as important as the experiences in which you engage. It’s not about the number of toys you’ve got or the number of trips you go on with them, it’s making sure they’ve got the right emotional support around them from the adults in their lives.’