The Duchess of Cambridge attended the Mental Health in Education Conference today to meet leaders and experts and take part in discussions about implementing good mental health practices in schools.
Hosted by the Royal Foundation and presented by broadcaster Kate Silverton, the conference consisted of panel discussions, sessions and speakers. Kate listened to debates on adding mental health modules to teacher training courses and how school leaders are integral in creating wellbeing in schools.
Kate also met with head teachers who are using the Mentally Healthy Schools programme that she created with the Royal Foundation. The programme is still in its pilot phase, having been launched last year.
Mentally Healthy Schools is a collaboration of Heads Together, The Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, Place2Be and Young Minds. The programme is administered through a website that is available to all UK primary schools, with curriculum from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland added, to ensure its relevance. It gives students, teachers and administrators “free access to hundreds of the highest quality assured mental health resources, including lesson plans, assembly plans, advice and information” and makes it easy for everyone to “understand, talk about and support good mental health in their schools,” according to the Royal Foundation’s website.
Kate Silverton introduced the Duchess of Cambridge at the conference, acknowledging her role in driving the conversation. ”As you all know [she] has been a great driving force behind much of the Royal Foundation supporting children in their earliest years. Your Royal Highness, it’s an absolute honour to have you with us here today, thank you for all the work that you are doing in this field.”
Kate delivered a speech before leaving, touching upon the important work the conference was highlighting, and emphasising the importance of implementing mentally healthy initiatives in schools.
“It’s really so exciting to hear everyone here speaking with your wealth of experience about the importance of mental health and particularly the emotional development of our children and teachers. What we have all been discussing here today really brings to light the vital role teachers are playing in supporting our youngest children’s mental health.”
Kate spoke of her own work with mental health charities, saying that, “Over the last eight years working with charities, I’ve met some of our leading experts in mental health, addiction, family breakdown, homelessness and education. They have taught me over and over again that the root cause of so many of today’s social problems can be traced right back to the very earliest years of a person’s life and often over generations.”
“The scientific and other evidence is clear: the first few years of a child’s life are more pivotal for development and for future health and happiness than any other single moment in our life time.”
And the Duchess of Cambridge added ”I feel so passionately about working together and being here today has affirmed to me just how much already is being done, so thank you to all of you who are prioritising the importance of mental health and the importance of childhood development as a whole. I look forward to hearing how your discussions will lead to proactive steps and to an ever more resounding commitment to mentally healthy schools, teachers and children.”