Heads Together And Royal Collaboration To Promote Mental Health Awareness

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry this week kicked off the next phase of Heads Together as the campaign intensifies its efforts to create millions of conversations around mental health in 2017. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry are spearheading Heads Together, with eight Charity Partners and three Founding Partners, to change the conversation on mental health and end stigma.

At today’s briefing for leaders from across UK society, Their Royal Highnesses said that 2017 marks a ‘tipping point’ for mental health in the UK and outlined how Heads Together aims to make this the year when millions more people talk about their mental health without fear of judgement.

In speeches at the briefing, The Duke and Duchess and Prince Harry described how the Heads Together campaign will work with a range of organisations and people from all walks of life to show how much starting a conversation can help all of us when dealing with pressures on our mental health. Attendees at the briefing were encouraged to behind the campaign by creating and sharing these conversations with their members, networks and audiences.

With fewer than 100 days to go to the start of the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon, Their Royal Highnesses said that Heads Together runners and others will use this opportunity to create a ‘mental health marathon’ that gets the country talking about mental health. Their Royal Highnesses welcomed the announcement today of a BBC season of features that will be broadcast around the time of the marathon, including a documentary featuring a small group of Heads Together runners to be broadcast before and after the event.

The Duke and Duchess and Prince Harry opened up the Heads Together campaign to organisations that support their ambition to change the conversation on mental health. From today, organisations can sign up to become ‘Supporters of Heads Together’ at www.headstogether.org.uk/get-involved

Heads Together marathon runner Jon Salmon spoke at the event with his friend Steve Jackson about how their conversations have helped Jon deal with his mental health problems, along with exercise. Former footballer Rio Ferdinand also spoke at the event and committed his personal support to the Heads Together campaign.

Jon explained: “I have been lucky enough to have had a really supportive group of friends since my teens. But you know how blokes are, we were never good at talking about our feelings. It was really only after getting ill myself that I learned about the power of conversation and the importance of being able to open up and talk about sometimes very personal and painful feelings – which is never easy to do. The key is feeling safe – knowing that the person listening is not judging. Steve was always a great listener. This is as true in professional therapy as it is in friendship. Anti depressants are sometimes necessary in treating mental illness but cannot work on their own. A talking therapy, like CBT in my case, made all the difference.”

Speaking at the briefing, The Duke of Cambridge said: “There are times when, whoever we are, it is hard to cope with challenges – and when that happens being open and honest and asking for help is life-changing. 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.

“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 said: “In the weeks leading up to the Marathon, our campaign will show 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.
If we succeed with this, we will have taken a powerful step in normalizing mental health as an issue in our society, thinking about it as we do our own physical health.”

Prince Harry added: “Over 500 people will be running for Heads Together, leading from the front (well perhaps not right at the front!), raising funds for the vital services provided by our Charity Partners. These runners will also be leading by example by starting conversations on mental health with their families, friends and colleagues.

“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!

“The truth is we can all help each other. You don’t need any qualifications to help your mate out, simply to listen to what they have to say. At the heart of this campaign is our hope that no-one should be afraid to ask for help, and no-one should worry about knowing how to help. That initial conversation could be the cure, before it has a chance to manifest itself.”

Rio Ferdinand also spoke about the importance of talking in helping those facing mental health challenges.

Rio Ferdinand said: “As a former footballer, now a presenter, entrepreneur and a dad I can feel the walls coming down. I remember the days when we would never ever discuss this stuff. Certainly not in the dressing room. Because we felt that it was a sign of weakness. Things are changing. More and more of us now know talking is a source of strength.

“In all of our walks of life we are beginning to have the conversations that need to be had. People are beginning to open up. For guidance, for support, to help find a way forward. And for many, those life-changing conversations are making the future look more positive.”

Following the speeches Their Royal Highnesses met with the Heads Together Charity Partners and supporters, as well as leaders from across UK society, ranging from media and technology through to business and the voluntary sector.

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