Published 23 January 2018

When we intervene early in life, we help avoid problems that are much more challenging to address in adulthood

The Duchess of Cambridge

Thank you so much for having me here today.

Over the last two years, William and Harry and I have been honoured to take part in a national conversation on mental health through the Heads Together campaign.

We know that mental health is an issue for us all – children and parents, young and old, men and women - of all backgrounds and all circumstances.

What we have seen first-hand is that the simple act of having a conversation about mental health – that initial breaking of the silence – can make a real difference.  

But, as you here today know:  starting a conversation is just that – a start.  

This is particularly true of the conversations that take place in our schools, and with our children.
     
I see time and time again that there is so much to be gained from taking the mental health of our children as seriously as we do their physical health.   

When we intervene early in life, we help avoid problems that are much more challenging to address in adulthood. 

My own commitment is to the youngest and most vulnerable in their early years - babies, toddlers and school-children - and to supporting all those who care for them.

The role of teachers here is absolutely vital.  You see our children as they grow, learn and play, and as they build their social skills that will make the difference to their futures. 

You are uniquely placed to help children speak out about their mental and emotional challenges, and direct parents and carers to the right support.

I am all too aware, however, of how much we ask our teachers to take on. Teachers want to help, but don't have time to go hunting for the best information and advice out there.  You need resources you can trust.  And you need to have easy access to them at all times.

That is what this pilot is all about. 

Led by the Royal Foundation, with close collaboration from our Heads Together partners, this new online resource will transform schools’ access to high-quality information, and guide teachers and school leaders towards the best support out there.   

The ambition is to roll the website out this year so it's available to every teacher in every primary school in the UK.  The ultimate goal is that every teacher in the country should know where to turn for expert resources to support  the emotional well-being and mental health of children in their care.

I would ask each of you here today to work with the Foundation to develop this essential new resource. Please let us know what works, what doesn't, and what else you would like to see.  This project has been a collaboration from day one.  It will only succeed if we continue to work together.

And with that in mind, it's exciting to see the Department for Education, represented by the Minister here today, taking such a close interest.  Thank you.

Finally, I'd like to say a huge thank you to you all.  We would not be here today without the help of our Heads Together partners, including the Anna Freud Centre, Place2Be and Young Minds.  

I am grateful, too, to the Centre for Mental Health,  the National Association of Head Teachers  and the fifty schools taking part in this pilot.  I am so excited to see where this work will take us in future.