The Duchess of Cambridge has opened up about the struggles of parenting during a visit to The Royal Foundation's 'Mental Health in Education' conference in London, on Wednesday. The mum-of-three spoke of how she "was very naive as a parent" as she detailed the importance of the early years of a child's life. As one of her key areas of work this year focussing on children's mental health, Kate discussed her own experiences with a range of professionals and academics brought together to promote mental health training in Britain’s schools.
Duchess Kate spoke at the Mental Health in Education conference in London
The Duchess kicked off the day with a panel discussion, which included Catherine Roche, the CEO of Place2Be of which Kate is patron. The 37-year-old royal then attended a private round table discussion with 11 professionals to discuss the potential impact of consistent mental health teacher training, as well as the challenges facing its implementation.
Drawing on her own experience, Kate shared: "When I first started out and I've learnt a lot in a short period of time working with organisations, I was very naive myself as a parent, of really just how important particularly the early years are for children's futures. And how critical it is, everyone looking after children at a critical time, teachers, parents, and everyone who’s caring for them, how important it is that we get it right."
"I didn't know what some of the issues that perhaps we take for granted here as experts know about, but it’s being able to translate it to those who don’t have the training in a way that the points come across clearly," she added. Moments later, the Duchess prepared an "impromptu speech" for the gathered delegates. Taking to the stage, Kate said: "I wasn't actually planning on speaking but I do just want to say a few words on reflection after today's wonderful speakers. 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."
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"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," she continued. "Thank you all for your dedication to this important cause, whether you work in schools, universities, charities or elsewhere. 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. It is also clear that the positive development of our children is directly linked to those who care for them, teachers, carers and parents. And as we have heard today, it is therefore vital that we support teachers with their own wellbeing so that they can find the best level of care for all children, in their schools and communities in which they work.
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"No one of us however can make a difference alone. 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 evermore resounding commitment to mentally healthy schools, teachers and children. Thank you."
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