Kate Middleton says awareness around mental health should be 'part of school life'

The Shout text service was launched in 2019

The Duchess of Cambridge has said that awareness for young people around mental health should be "normalised and made part of school life" as she and Prince William spoke to a family helped by the Shout 85258 text service.

The family, whose anonymity is being protected, spoke to the royal couple on Tuesday about the circumstances that led their 12-year-old son to reach out to Shout.

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After suffering from high levels of anxiety and poor mental health which were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, he had reached the decision to take his own life. However, on receiving support from a Shout Volunteer via the anonymous textline, he was able to contact the police for help instead of ending his life, before starting to open up about the extent of his challenges.  

When asked by the Duchess if there should be more awareness for young people around mental health, the youngster said: "It's a subject that's ignored quite a lot in some schools - so, awareness in that sense, and making it so people can relate to you as well."

Kate replied: "That it's something that is made to feel familiar and just part of everyday life, it's proved really hard and I really agree with you that within schools, if it is normalised and made part of life and school life so that when people are going through a hard time, they know how to talk about it."

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William and Kate speaking with Shout volunteers in 2019

During the call, the boy's parents told William and Kate that they were in no doubt that the support their son received through Shout saved his life and spoke about their hopes for the future as he continues to receive help through local Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

The youngster's father said: "We have no doubt that what happened between Shout when he was stood on that bridge was enough to save his life and now it sounds so abstract and bizarre, slightly, but when we reflect on it, we know the conversation that Shout have had with our son was pivotal in him not doing anything that he would regret later. That is amazing."

William said: "This service is doing exactly what we hoped it would, which is be there for families in crisis. It's nice to be able to speak to you directly and hear about what has gone on here, how it has helped you, and really what it has done."

Shout 85258 is the UK's first 24/7 text messaging support service, offering a free and confidential platform for conversations around mental health to ensure no-one has to face their problems alone.

The service was researched and developed with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's Royal Foundation as a legacy of the Heads Together campaign and was set up with a £2m grant from The Royal Foundation.  

Anyone can text SHOUT to 85258 for free, confidential, 24/7 mental health support. For more information visit: www.giveusashout.org/.

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