If anyone grasps the importance of mental health, it’s the royal family.
Princes Harry and William, as well as Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, have made it their mission to bring the critical issue to the public’s attention.
In 2016, they teamed up with mental health charity Heads Together and released a public service announcement about why it’s so important to discuss mental health. Since then, they’ve made a number of public appearances in support of the cause. Harry opened up about his own mental health struggles, and the brothers filmed themselves talking about what it was like losing their mother at such a young age. They even got together with Lady Gaga to help raise awareness.
Middleton decided to start 2018 with a fresh new program aimed at bringing the conversation to those who need it most: kids.
Speaking at Roe Green Junior School in North London, Middleton announced the launch of Mentally Healthy Schools, a new Heads Together program aimed at creating mental health resources for children and teachers alike.
“What we have seen firsthand is that the simple act of having a conversation about mental health — that initial breaking of the silence — can make a real difference,” she said. “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.”
The program’s goal is to bring these resources to every school in the U.K. without making unreasonable demands of teachers.
Teachers have a lot of work to do, and too often, they get more piled on without much thought as to how they’ll actually get it done. Middleton cautioned against this in her speech, noting that the program will be aimed at helping teachers know where they can turn to when one of their students needs help, not necessarily having to be the experts themselves.
“You need resources you can trust, and you need to have easy access to them at all times,” she told her audience. “The ultimate goal is that all teachers in the country should know where to turn for expert resources to support the emotional well-being and mental health of children in their care.”
You don’t have to be royalty to start a conversation in your community about mental health.
Mental health stigma is very real and often discourages people from seeking the help they need, making their problems worse in the long run. The most important thing any of us can do as individuals is to fight back against the notion that people who seek help for their mental health are somehow weak or defective. The National Association on Mental Illness put together a brilliant list of nine things we can all do to facilitate conversations about mental health and fight stigma.
You can watch Middleton’s announcement below.