There's a new vibe coming from the British royal family now that Prince Willian and Princess Kate are the face of the family. This week, Kate Middleton and Prince William talked mental health while visiting the Stewards Academy in Harlow, Essex and managed to send a powerful message to girls (and all kids, really). The Prince and Princess were visiting the school because it has a program that focuses on the mental health of students just as much as it does their education and it's an issue that's very close to the couple's heart.
Providing kids a safe space to talk about their feelings and unpack emotions can change everything when it comes to mental health stigma. William and Kate were both very open with the students, too, who spoke about their experiences.
There was 15-year-old Hannah, for example, who talked about having bad nerves. Before she finished, Princess Kate told her to "never give up" on her dreams. Hanna said to People, "The princess said to me that I should always keep performing and I should never give up on my dreams.That is going to stay with me for the rest of my life."
Hannah added that, "I think the fact that they came here is going to help a lot of people be able to speak up about how they're feeling," she added. Which is sort of the point. Hearing the princess talk about her own struggles with mental health is empowering for all women, who are often taught to temper their emotions.
William wrote a blog post for Heads Together, a campaign by William, Kate, and Prince Harry, to, "[get people talking about difficult times that many of us will experience at different times in our life; and then accessing expert help if we need it."
William wrote that the Stewards School practices the "belief that children should be comfortable with admitting if they ever feel overwhelmed (it is very normal to feel like that, after all) and that children should know that they can ask for help." Prince William writes that, "the sooner children learn in life that asking for help is okay, the better. It better equips us for adulthood – just as much as good academic results. " The school works with Place2Be, a charity that works within schools to provide counseling, solution-based programs, and more.
The school has a buddy system for students, which is a designated person you're supposed to open with. They also offer resources for parents to learn more about talking to their older kids about big changes — like starting high school or hitting puberty — without stigmatizing any feelings.
William's right, the sooner you learn to ask for help, the better. That's good advice for adults and kids.