Home Royal News William & Catherine highlight youth mental health problems on World Mental Health Day

William & Catherine highlight youth mental health problems on World Mental Health Day

by Victoria Howard

Today, William and Catherine highlighted the plight of young people with mental health problems at an event at Harrow College, on World Mental Health Day.

The charities, Mind and Time To Change, organised the meeting at the college to mark the international awareness day.

The Royal couple chat with youngsters

The Royal couple chat with youngsters

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge got to talk with youths who have battled such issues, including suicide and depression.

The couple participated in a Mindkit workshop, which educates young people about emotional health and resilience. The session, sat in a circle, focused on the five ways to wellbeing and how it can be applied to help manage difficult times and situations.

“Mindkit helps you think of ways you can build you mental health. The equivalent of going to the gym for your mind,” the chief executive of MIND, Paul Farmer told PEOPLE ahead of the event. “It brings together a variety of techniques that enables people to build their resilience.”

William asked one volunteer what it was that got them involved in mental health support.

Nikki Mattocks, 18, replied: “For me it is because, for years – I have experience of hearing voices – and I never really felt there was a positive role model out there.

The Duchess speaks with others about their experiences

The Duchess speaks with others about their experiences

“When I said that I was hearing voices, I was told that I must be a murderer. For me it is really important for people to know that we are just normal, average people.”

Through the Royal Foundation, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry champion the Armed Forces and its veterans, conservation, and young people. Catherine has supported mental health charities for a number of years, and raised awareness of the UKs first Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week last year.

Sue Baker, director at Time To Change, told Sky News: “There is a stigma to mental health problems in almost every culture in every society globally, so having two high-profile royal visitors will allow that message to get out globally.

“It’s not just people in our country will see them openly supporting mental health and having conversations, it’s got the potential to have global influence as well.”

Catherine, already an ambassador for early intervention in mental health, asked  21-year-old Jessica Kwamin about her situation:  “Do you feel that if help had been there earlier, that you would have accessed it earlier? Or did it come to the pushing point?”

Jessica overdosed in the classroom. “I don’t think the help would have come to me if I didn’t come out and find it.

“My parents are from Africa and in Africa it is such a taboo subject – mental health – because you can’t see it, it isn’t real, you should be a bit stronger than that.”

Mind’s chief executive officer Paul Farmer explained the importance of the Royal attention: “Their support will shine a spotlight on mental health and we hope it will spark conversations in households across the country, amplifying the vital message that it’s time to talk about mental health.”

“We hope it will encourage people to thing about the little things we can all do to make a difference to anyone experiencing a mental health problem.”

At the end of the session, William thanked the group for their openness. “I could sit here and talk to you for hours. Thank you so much for sharing your stories with us.

“You are being incredibly brave doing this. I know it’s not easy for you re-living your experiences again and again.

“If we can get more young people talking, and coming through with their experiences, then we can really get mental health to the fore, which is where it should be and what we need to do.’

The Duchess added: “I keep thinking about what else we can do and how we can raise awareness. Keep the ideas coming. We think it’s so important, so really well done for being ambassadors. Talking about mental health is so important.”

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