The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge alongside Prince Harry delivered a powerful message on mental health in London today when they attended a briefing to outline the next phase of their Heads Together campaign.
Speaking at the meeting, which took place at the Institute of Contemporary Art, William, Kate and Harry emphasised the importance of tackling stigma in order to change the global conversation on mental health.
The trio gave a joint speech to the assembled crowd which was led by Prince William who said: ‘Mental health matters to each and every one of us. It matters just as much as our physical health.’
Urging people to talk to one another and ask for help when needed the Duke of Cambridge spoke of how ‘talking to someone else is a positive and confident step to take – but for too long, it has been a case of “Keep Quiet and Carry On”. As a result, too many people have suffered in silence for too long, and the effects of this can be devastating.’
He continued: ‘It is no exaggeration to say that conversations – simple conversations – can be life-changing: in a workplace, in your kitchen at home, with a friend, family member or colleague. And that’s what Catherine, Harry and I want to do – we want more people to be having those conversations.’
The Duchess of Cambridge was next to speak, and she reiterated her husband’s assertion that 2017 will be a ‘tipping point’ for mental health.
She said: ‘We have seen that two heads are better than one when dealing with a mental health problem. Yet, the challenge that so many people have is not knowing how to take that first step of reaching out to another person for help. Admitting that they are not coping. Fear, or reticence, or a sense of not wanting to burden another, means that people suffer in silence – allowing the problem to grow larger and larger unchecked.’
Kate then spoke about the hope she, William and Harry share that people will start having more conversations about mental health and its importance, particularly in the run-up to the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon, for which the trio’s Heads Together initiative has been chosen as Charity of the Year.
She said: ‘What Heads Together is proposing is that in the weeks leading up to the Marathon, our campaign will showcase people from all walks of life, talking about the life-changing conversations that have helped them with their mental health challenges…We hope that these real-life examples will serve as encouragement to others to do the same.’
Harry rounded up the speech saying: ‘It has been unbelievably encouraging to see that attitudes towards mental health across the country are beginning to change. In the past, the phrase ‘mental health’ would be translated to mental illness. But thankfully that is changing!
‘We are all wired differently. We all have mental health, and we’ll say it again and again and again, if you want to be fit, healthy and set yourself up for success, then your mental fitness is absolutely as important as your physical fitness. Everyone would get help for a broken leg, so why not seek help for an issue that could hamper you and others around you.’
The speech concluded with an appeal from Harry to the audience when he said:
‘Every single one of you in this room can help too. You are all role models and highly respected people in your industries – the way you talk about mental health will have a profound effect on millions of people, whether you’re speaking from personal experience or encouraging those around you to do the same.
‘So please could I encourage you all to have a conversation with the Heads Together team, who are here today, and share your ideas. We need as many people as possible – famous or not – who can help showcase what it’s like to have a conversation with a friend, family or stranger. All your ideas are welcome.’
Following the speeches the young royals met Heads Together charity partners as well as media, technology, business and voluntary sector representatives.