Today the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited projects in North Wales run by Mind, the mental health charity, signifying their continued commitment to raising awareness of mental health problems.
The Duke and Duchess stopped at The Institute, Caernarfon, to learn about the Ynys Môn and Gwynedd Mind led projects, which empower local young people to talk openly about mental health. Their Royal Highnesses were taken through the photography exhibition Mute: Are you being heard by the young people from Coleg Menai Bangor and Parc Menai campuses, whose art was on display.
Ynys Môn and Gwynedd Mind has supported the students, many of whom have experienced their own mental health problems, to use photography as an expression of their own personal battles and paths to recovery.
The Duke and Duchess moved on to the Towers outdoor activity centre in Snowdonia, run by Mountain Rescue, to meet students from Holyhead High School who have benefitted from mental health anti-discrimination courses organised by Ynys Môn and Gwynedd Mind. Before tackling the outdoor activities, the students discussed the stigma felt by young people with mental health problems and explained how they’ve learned to challenge prejudices, as a result of the training they’ve undertaken.
The day was concluded with a visit to the Vale of Clwyd Mind’s Men’s Shed project in Denbigh. Here, the Duke and Duchess met men age 30-93 who come together weekly to take part in activities including regenerating local open spaces, creating vegetable plots, renovating furniture and learning woodwork skills. The project gives male participants a safe and friendly environment to meet peers, share experiences and build strong support networks which are vital to reducing isolation and maintaining positive mental health.
Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, said: “Today, the Duke and Duchess have again focussed global attention on mental health problems. Their continued support is sending a clear signal to the public, that no one experiencing a mental health problem should ever go unsupported or unheard. No one should be falling through the cracks.
“Teenagers and men are two groups that face challenges when it comes to opening up about mental health and reaching out for support. Both easily silenced by the fear of what others will think if they ask for help and all too often misunderstood when they do. Young people’s feelings are commonly dismissed as “teenage moodiness” and men are told to “man up and tough it out”.
“In celebrating the fantastic artwork created by the students in Caernarfon, Their Royal Highnesses highlighted the innovative ways Ynys Môn and Gwynedd Mind is working with young people, to encourage them to express their feelings. At the Towers, they met students who’ve undertaken training with Mind to empower them to challenge mental health stigma. Finally, at Vale Clwyd Mind’s Men’s Shed project in Denbigh they met men of all ages who’re experiencing the positive effects of friendship and developing new skills, on mental wellbeing and resilience.
“We are proud to have the backing of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for Mind’s unyielding battle to ensure everyone with a mental health problems gets the support and respect they deserve”
Robyn Black, 22 from Menai Bridge, took part in the Ynys Môn and Gwynedd Mind visit and said: "I felt a sense of accomplishment that people of such high profile took notice - it felt like we aren't alone and people want to listen.
"The Royal Family are so high profile that when they talk about mental health, it brings the issue to life. The Duke and Duchess focusing on it is a really good thing. It means people are forced to address the issue. It educates people"
Nathan Sarea, coordinator for Denbigh Men’s shed, said: “Meeting both the Duke and Duchess today was a wonderful experience. They had a natural empathy with what we do and clearly have a good understanding of the impacts of social isolation and why projects like ours are essential for people’s wellbeing.
“It was fantastic for all of the men here today, to have their personal stories listened to. This visit has put the Denbigh shed firmly on the map and for that we’re incredibly grateful.”