The Duchess of Cambridge gave a rare public address today, joining husband Prince William and brother-in-law Prince Harry in a pledge to “do what they can to shine a spotlight on emotional well-being,” marking World Mental Health Day. She hinted at William and Harry’s grief at losing their mother as she said, “All of us know someone who has been through emotional times.”
The royals’ activities were centred around the London Eye, one of a number of world landmarks to be lit up in purple over the next 24 hours. It’s in support of the Light Up Purple drive, in memory of Amanda Todd, a 15-year-old Canadian who killed herself in 2012. She brought the problem of cyber bullying to mainstream attention after she posted a YouTube video in which she told her story with handwritten signs.
A number of couples, either friends, relatives or colleagues, joined the royals in the London Eye pod, telling how one person had been helped by the other when they had suffered from depression or other psychological problems.
At the city’s County Hall, they spoke to people who have struggled with mental health issues or who have overcome a difficult time in their lives alongside the friends or family members who supported them. The royals also spoke privately to people running the 2017 London Marathon for Heads Together, the umbrella body for eight British mental health charities. Kate is the royal patron.
The three royals then gave a joint speech in which they spoke about the issues around mental health. William spoke first and called for mental health not to be treated like a “dirty word.”
“We all have mental health like we do physical health, good or ill. But not seeking help at those times when it all seems too much, or we are depressed or anxious, can impact the rest of our lives. Put simply, the three of us want to make asking for help no longer a big deal.
“On the Heads Together journey so far we have seen the difference that a listening ear can make to people’s lives – whether a father supporting a child suffering depression, a soldier who has returned from a testing deployment, or a child struggling with the pressures of a new school.
“Personally, in my work at the Air Ambulance, I see how colleagues and families help each other through traumatic moments.
“The three of us have learnt a lot in the past few months as we have met people. The conclusion we are coming to, is that the more we all talk about this, the more collectively as a society we can do to support one another.”
Kate said: “William, Harry and I feel it is our duty to do what we can, with your help, to shine a spotlight on emotional wellbeing and highlight the support that is out there to prevent or manage the pain at difficult times. The three of us are coming to the realisation that more needs to be done to support people who are seeking help.
“But first, as William said, we must tackle the stigma that stops people asking for help in the first place. We want to encourage people to talk to one another.”
Harry said: “William, Catherine and I want everyone to know how to give exactly the vital mental health support that you have talked about. It’s not rocket science, but most of us don’t know what to do if a friend or family member is suffering.
“Having some basic knowledge, and having the confidence to act on your knowledge, can make a huge difference to those around us. As William said earlier, we all have mental health just as we all have physical health. Too often we think mental health problems are things that happen to other people, not us.
“But we will all experience pressure on our mental health at some point during our lives. The more we accept that, the better we can help each other. Catching it and recognising it early, saves lives. So, it’s time we ended the shame around mental health – the fear of judgment that stops people talking or getting help.”