The Prince and Princess of Wales take part in mental health engagements
Published 11 October 2023
Blue Light Hub
On Wednesday, The Prince of Wales visited the state-of-the-art Blue Light Hub in Milton Keynes, the operational base of South-Central Ambulance Service, Thames Valley Police and Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service. Continuing the week’s theme of Mental Health, The Prince of Wales spoke with a group of young first responders, including blue light mental health champions and volunteers, who have recently joined the emergency and search and rescue services. In a conversation led by broadcaster and NHS psychologist Sian Williams, His Royal Highness heard first-hand about the challenges emergency responders face, focussing on mental health crisis prevention, resilience, and coping strategies.
The Blue Light Hub was one of the first purpose-built combined fire, police and ambulance premises in the U.K. The project has seen the three services relocate to a single modern and environmentally friendly facility, allowing for improved efficiency and effectiveness of the three blue light services. Increasing collaboration between the three services encourages fire, police and ambulance colleagues to work together at an operational level as well as supporting each other mentally and emotionally.
Meanwhile, The Princess of Wales travelled to Nottingham to learn about the support the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University (NTU) give students to support their mental health, particularly at the start of the academic year. Whilst visiting the NTU Campus, the Princess learned how the two universities work together to share best practice on mental health management and many other issues, as part of their ‘Universities for Nottingham’ approach to positive collaboration.
Both universities support students with their mental health by focusing on participation and helping them to develop a sense of belonging and connectivity to their community. The Princess joined a small group of University of Nottingham students to talk about the peer-to-peer mentoring support they have taken part in, and watched students take part in a ‘step in circle’ exercise, designed to build confidence, friendship and belonging. Finally, Her Royal Highness was shown the universities’ ‘wellbeing dashboard’ – a technology-led approach to supporting students’ mental wellbeing.
The Prince and Princess of Wales attended a mental fitness workshop run by SportsAid at Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre. The workshop, run in conjunction with charity BelievePerform, supports young sportspeople and their families to manage their mental wellbeing, and to understand how together they can build the skills for happy and healthy experiences in sport and life.
A survey conducted by SportsAid and BelievePerform in September 2023 found that 42% of young athletes said they occasionally feel anxious in their day-to-day life, with a further 20% saying they ‘often’ or ‘always’ felt anxious. In addition, 40% of all athletes reported they were unsure how much access they have to mental health services or support.
During their visit, The Prince and Princess joined sessions with young athletes and parents to see the support being offered by SportsAid to build their mental fitness. They were joined in the sessions by SportsAid ambassadors including gold medal winning Paralympic swimmer Ellie Simmonds and Commonwealth champion netball player Ama Agbeze.
Their Royal Highnesses also took part in two practical sessions with young athletes focused around building mental resilience. The first session saw them try to score points in a netball hoop under external pressures such as crowd noise or against the clock. Finally, The Prince and Princess played in a game of goalball, a visually impaired Paralympic sport.