Prince William and Kate Middleton have been shining a light on young people’s mental health today at a two-hour event in Birmingham. And the Prince of Wales took the opportunity during a panel discussion to give some insight into how he looks after his own mental wellbeing.
William was asked onstage by Dr. Alex George what tools he uses for positive mental health. “For me, just general maintenance, general mental wellbeing. Things like walking, fresh air, getting away from screens is a big deal,” he replied. “Having a laugh. Humor for me is a big deal – I love to laugh. You’ve got to look at the lighter things in life sometimes to feel good. Time with my friends, time with my family. Things like that really matter to me.”
The Prince was onstage with Fatima Diallo, 21, and Michael Lister, 20, who are involved with mental health charity The Mix. The Prince emphasized that he wanted to hear from young people and learn from them to better understand how he and Kate can shape their Royal Foundation work in mental health. He also suggested that it was useful for his personal life. “As I speak to you all, I’m thinking in my head actually what you’re doing and how you’re managing or how you’re copying is a really useful strategy,” he said. “So I’m learning off you as I go around. I meet loads of people and I’m always doing that in the background…You’re always trying to learn from other people what tricks or tips or skills that they’ve experienced that you use for yourself.”
Kate made a speech at the forum, where she emphasized the importance of talking about mental health before people are struggling. “Both learning about the world and learning about how to be happy and thrive within it, should go hand-in-hand, “ she told the room. “So, if we talk about mental health with this in mind, it need not have so many negative connotations. We can choose to see our emotional worlds and mental wellbeing in a different light, we can normalize it and recognize it as something we all have, and require, as human beings.”
Adarsh Ramchurn, 22, who hosted the royal couple today, said, “We had a conversation before they left saying that they’re not just doing this for the sake of it, they are really passionate about the change they want to see. So for young people to know that the Prince and Princess are really supportive of pushing forward mental health will I think help push their own mental health forward themselves and also give them the confidence that they need that they’ve got the support.”
Sharvari Patil, 21, a volunteer with The Mix ran a session called Exploring our Emotions which Kate took part in. She said: “She got very involved with the games. I felt very well listened to. I think it’s great that they are coming and putting out this strategy of preventative care because I think that is the cultural shift that we need in our language, our narrative about mental health… Because of that unique platform that they have, I think that they are able to start this change in the way we speak about mental health.”
Sharvari described how she ran a workshop with Kate called “guess the vibes.” “One person would have this emotions wheel and they would spin it and they would look away” she said. “The other people would have to try and tell them, try and explain which emotion it was through the action and how the emotion is presented.” She said of Kate’s participation: “I was a little bit nervous but because she was very chilled, after she started interacting my nerves left…She really threw herself in and she really embraced it. And she tried to give reflections as well, so when I asked everyone how they found it, I think her reflection was that having better emotional vocabulary would help people talk about their emotions more.”
Amidst some serious discussions there were also plenty of lighter moments at today’s engagement. The royal couple posed for photographs with some of the young people as well as talking to BBC radio presenters Nikita Kanda and Nadia Jae about how they like their curry. Nikita recalled how she heard Kate tell someone else that they were going to have a curry for dinner this evening. “I’ve got to ask, I’m Indian, I need to know what kind of spice level they like,” Nikita told reporters afterwards. “She said she likes it spicy with coriander, he doesn’t like it spicy.”
The two presenters agreed that the royal couple are tackling mental health in an effective way to help young people, with Nadia observing that “they care.” “They’re so humble and down to earth,” Nikita added.
Town & Country Contributing Editor Victoria Murphy has reported on the British Royal Family since 2010. She has interviewed Prince Harry and has travelled the world covering several royal tours. She is a frequent contributor to Good Morning America. Victoria authored Town & Country book The Queen: A Life in Pictures, released in 2021.
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