Mental health – especially that of children – is close to the Duchess of Cambridge’s heart. Just last year, she launched Mentally Healthy Schools, which is intended to help students and staff access mental health support throughout the UK. Children’s mental health is exactly what brought her to St. Thomas’s Battersea, Prince George’s school, earlier this week.
According to HELLO! UK, Kate attended a speech by mental health activist Hope Virgo as part of Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK. She also took the time to meet and speak with Hope after her talk, and Hope later said it had been an “honour.”
“This morning I spoke at Battersea School and it was absolutely amazing and a real honour to have the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, attend to hear me speak,” she wrote on Instagram. The post appears to have been deleted.
“We had a lovely chat at the end about all the work she is doing on mental health. And because you can’t take photos you get these wonderful dogs who are so well looked after at the school. What a fantastic day!”
Hope has been outspoken about her struggles with anorexia, and is behind the #DumpTheScales campaign, which is petitioning the UK government to “ensure nobody is turned away from treatment for eating disorders purely because of their weight,” according to Mental Health Today.
Hope launched the campaign based on personal experience. She said she decided she needed help for her eating disorder again in 2016, but says she was told she wasn’t thin enough to qualify for treatment. She says while the current government guidelines for treating eating disorders are correct, their implementation throughout the UK is inconsistent.
In addition to her work with Mentally Healthy Schools, Kate founded Heads Together with Prince William and brother-in-law Prince Harry to encourage people to open up about their mental health, and helped launch next mental health text messaging service Shout earlier this month. Kate and William have also received awards for their mental health awareness work. In 2017, the couple were given the Gold Blue Peter badge, which was previously awarded to the Queen.
Just this week, William launched a new mental health campaign connected with men’s soccer. The Duke of Cambridge is the President of the Football Association, and his new Heads Up initiative is being run in connection with the FA to “generate the biggest ever conversation around mental health.” Organizers hope it will encourage soccer players and fans to talk about their mental health and struggles in an effort to break down stigma. Suicide is the biggest cause of death of men who are younger than 45 in the UK, according to People.
“When it comes to our mental health, we – and by we, I mean men in particular – often have nothing to say at all,” William said in a press conference at London’s Wembley Stadium on Wednesday, according to ABC News.
“And when we know we need help, we don’t even know where to start. Just like physical health, we all have mental health. The consequences of this silence, confusion, stigma and even shame have reached a crisis point in the UK.”
William is also heavily involved with the Drowning Prevention Strategy, a new program to help prevent people from taking their lives in London’s River Thames.
“He is not just raising awareness, but putting things in place that will make a difference,” Johnny Benjamin, who is launching the campaign with William, told People.
“It’s all very well talking about mental health, but we need to make sure there are things happening. What he is doing with this new initiative is really needed – and he has the influence and power to bring things together.”