Prince William and Kate continued to raise awareness about their mental health campaign Heads Together during an engagement on Thursday morning. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge paid a low-key visit to the YoungMinds helpline in London, where they listened in to live calls from adults concerned about children's mental welfare.
As they met some of the volunteers who answer those calls, William opened up about the emotional impact his job as an air ambulance pilot has, recalling "too many sad families".
"Can I have an easy one please? I'm carrying a lot of things at the moment. I will be in floods of tears at the end otherwise," he said. "I've had too many sad families with the Air Ambulance. I can't deal with any more stuff. Just maybe at the lower level, if I can."
William, who donates his salary to the East Anglia Air Ambulance, added: "I'm steeling myself the best I can."
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Prince William and Kate visited the YoungMinds charity
The purpose of William and Kate's visit was to see how the helpline offers support and advice to any adult worried about the emotional problems, behaviour or mental health of a child or young person. The couple, both 34, were also given a taster of the training these volunteers undergo to prepare them for the calls.
It was an opportunity for Prince George and Princess Charlotte's parents to see the types of questions and responses people can expect if they call, and to dispel some of the myths surrounding the profiles of people at the other end of the line.
"I've had too many sad stories with the Air Ambulance. I can't deal with any more stuff," said William
Ms Tahir, a helpline volunteer and special needs teacher, said that sometimes volunteers get emotional during conversations.
"William was saying the same thing. He was saying, 'How do you keep your own emotions out of it? How do you keep your own story out of it?" she said.
After the royals listened to the live calls, Kate said that "she could tell from the caller's voice, the emotion at the beginning, and then the acceptance – 'Okay this is what I need to do' – to relief towards the end. 'Okay, I've been listened to, I know what my next steps are.'"
The couple listened in to live calls on the helpline
Before leaving the charity, Kate told chief executive Sarah Brennan: "William and I found it absolutely fascinating. What we've taken away is just how normal it is. We are parents ourselves, I am sure we will face worries – we do face worries, because we've got small young children. If those worries escalate, how vital it is to get support – and you are providing that support."
She added: "As a parent and as a mother, having that feeling that there is somebody there that is non-judgemental, that can provide the professional support, and that can really provide a helping hand at a really difficult time."
"William and I found it absolutely fascinating," said Kate of their visit
William agreed, saying: "It is important that parents understand that you can't be brilliant at everything. It is totally fine to talk about it and to seek help and to speak out, because we're not all superheroes. There is a lot of pressure on parents, and most of it is self-made by parents themselves, where you feel you have to be able to handle everything.
"You have to show strength and resilience to everything. But there are some times when it all gets too much and you need to reach out, and that's totally fine."
The Duchess wore a red L.K. Bennett dress
Earlier this year William, Kate and Prince Harry launched the Heads Together campaign to end stigma around mental health. A total of eight charities are involved, one of which is YoungMinds, hoping to change the national conversation around mental health.
The issue has always struck a chord with William and Kate, who admitted that they would seek professional help for their children George and Charlotte if they ever needed it in the future.
"Throughout my work with family and child support organisations, one thing that has stood out to me time and again is that getting early support for a child who is struggling to cope is the best possible thing we can do to help our children as they grow up," Kate wrote in a statement this month.
"Knowing this, both William and I feel very strongly that we wouldn't hesitate to get expert support for George and Charlotte if they need it."