It is such a privilege to have this opportunity to be Guest Editor of the Huffington Post today, and to celebrate the amazing work being done to improve and understand the mental health of young children. Young Minds Matter, being launched today, is a new series where issues and work around the mental health of young children will be explored.
Shortly after I got married, I started working with charities helping those affected by issues such as addiction, family breakdown and vulnerable children. As was to be expected, I often heard some heart-breaking stories about lives that had been torn apart, with devastating impacts for all involved, particularly children.
What I did not expect was to see that time and time again, the issues that led people to addiction and destructive decision making seemed to almost always stem from unresolved childhood challenges. It became clear to me that many children – even those younger than five – have to deal with complex problems without the emotional resilience, language or confidence to ask for help. And it was also clear that with mental health problems still being such a taboo, many adults are often too afraid to ask for help for the children in their care.
It is time for this to change.
The mental health of our children must be seen as every bit as important as their physical health. For too long we have been embarrassed to admit when our children need emotional or psychiatric help, worried that the stigma associated with these problems would be detrimental to their futures. Research published today by the Huffington Post indicates that around a third of parents still worry that they will look like a bad mother or father if their child has a mental health problem. Parenting is hard enough without letting prejudices stop us from asking for the help we need for ourselves and our children.
Like most parents today, William and I would not hesitate to seek help for our children if they needed it. We hope to encourage George and Charlotte to speak about their feelings, and to give them the tools and sensitivity to be supportive peers to their friends as they get older. We know there is no shame in a young child struggling with their emotions or suffering from a mental illness.
Of course, for some parents and carers seeking help is not so easy. When families are short of time or money it is not always easy to know where to look for help or advice. That is why we need schools and communities to play their full role to help children who are struggling in ways that are not always easy to see.
In the series of articles we have commissioned, you will be introduced to some extraordinary people and organisations. You will hear from a recently bereaved wife, confronting the reality that the depression that led to her husband’s suicide was with him as a 10-year old boy. You will hear from people who have fought back from their own serious illness to lead a change in the way we speak to children about their feelings and challenges. You will meet some of the extraordinary researchers who are asking important questions about the mental health of young people, and are getting answers that will be of real benefit to all parents and teachers.
I am so grateful to all those who have participated in this series and to all those who will contribute after today. I am also hugely grateful to all of you who will take the time to read, to watch, and to listen to these stories. Together, we have the chance to make a real difference for an entire generation of young children.
Young Minds Matter is a new series designed to lead the conversation with children about mental and emotional health, so youngsters feel loved, valued and understood. Launched with Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cambridge, as guest editor, we will discuss problems, causes and most importantly solutions to the stigma surrounding the UK’s mental health crisis among children. To blog on the site as part of Young Minds Matter email firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge on Twitter:www.twitter.com/KensingtonRoyal