We launched Heads Together to change the national conversation on mental health and tackle the stigma that prevents people from getting help, alongside developing a series of new mental health initiatives.
Through our work, 2017 saw the first ever Mental Health Marathon and one of the largest public health and awareness campaigns in the UK for many years. The campaign has made a lasting impact on people’s lives with clear evidence more people are now comfortable talking about their mental health.
Too often, people feel afraid to admit that they are struggling. Heads Together wants to help people feel more comfortable with their mental wellbeing and support their friends and family.
The Duke of Cambridge, The Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry
Heads Together brought together eight inspiring founding charities with decades of experience across a wide range of mental health issues. Working with us helps to maximise the reach and impact of the campaign.
- Best Beginnings
- CALM – The Campaign Against Living Miserably
- Contact (a military mental health coalition)
- The Mix
- The Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families
To help assess the impact of Heads Together, we worked with YouGov and the Data Science Institute at Imperial College London to research how the country was talking about mental health and whether it was changing.
In May 2017, 1.5 million more people were talking about mental health, compared to three months earlier, with 800,000 more men saying they had a conversation with a health professional about their mental wellbeing. Our charity partners also saw an incredible impact.
For example, there was a 42% increase in referrals to parent and child groups at the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, and on marathon day the charity Mind had an increase of 58% in calls to its helpline.
The Mental Health Marathon
As the 2017 London Marathon charity of the year, Heads Together had an incredibly positive platform, with 745 participants running for us, with thousands more donning the distinctively branded headband.
The campaign was amplified across the UK and around the world by incredible media moments too. The film of The Duke of Cambridge in conversation with Lady Gaga about mental health had more than 19 million viewers online alone; the BBC’s Mind Over Marathon documentary about runners for Heads Together was watched by 2.4 million people, while Bryony Gordon’s podcast with Prince Harry about his own struggles with mental health was universally praised.
Phase two combines our campaign to change the conversation on mental health with the development and delivery of new programmes to help people get the right help, at the right time, in the right place.
Mental Health Innovations
The Royal Foundation has granted £2 million to establish a new start-up for digital mental health innovation, which will develop new digital tools to help people have conversations about mental health.
During its Heads Together campaign, The Royal Foundation has found that better tools are needed to help give people the confidence to start a conversation on mental health – whether in times of calm or times of crisis – and to be able have this conversation wherever they are and whenever they need to.
This new digital mental health start-up, Mental Health Innovations, is led by CEO Victoria Hornby and a Board made up of leading technology experts. The funding represents the largest single grant The Foundation has made since it commenced operations in 2011.
With the advice and support of its Heads Together partner charities, The Royal Foundation will also be investing in programmes to support better conversations on mental health in schools, workplaces, and within the defence community. Further announcements will be made in the year ahead.
Mental ill health is estimated to cost UK businesses £35 billion annually and is the leading cause of sickness absence in the UK, with 127 million hours of work lost in 2015 due to mental health-related absence – the equivalent of around 75,000 individuals losing the entire working year. However, for all but the biggest corporates or businesses where the leadership is engaged with the mental wellbeing agenda, little is being done to address a clear need.
Publication of the government-mandated report “Thriving at Work” (Stevenson/Farmer, October 2017) highlighted the vital need for a range of employee wellbeing tools and strategies.
Developed in conjunction with our charity partner, Mind, our Workplace Wellbeing Programme will deliver much of the recommended help and support.
The programme consists of two core elements:
- An Employer Gateway – an online portal containing curated resources enabling employers to address workplace mental health constructively and proactively;
- Online SME (small and medium-sized enterprises) Employee Training aimed to equip employees with information and training about workplace mental health, so that they can better support themselves and their colleagues.
Mind will announce the programme at a workplace mental health symposium in March 2018, with programme tools launched to the public in September.
Support for Primary School Pupils
One in ten children will experience a mental health difficulty at least once before age 11, and many adults with lifetime mental health issues can trace their symptoms back to childhood. Many children can wait up to ten years before effective diagnosis or treatment.
There is good evidence that educational settings provide multiple opportunities to support their mental health and wellbeing.
As part of Heads Together, The Duchess launched a new website for primary schools, called Mentally Healthy Schools, on 23rd January 2018. It is being delivered through three of our charity partners: The Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, YoungMinds and Place2Be.
NAHT, the school leaders’ association, has been engaged to develop the initiative with guidance from Centre for Mental Health. The website will provide school staff with curated materials and resources, as well as key guidance to promote children’s mental health and support to implement a ‘whole school’ approach to mental wellbeing.
The site will be piloted and evaluated with 50 schools in England over 2018 to help us further develop the content and functionality. Due to demand from teachers we are making the site available publicly during this pilot phase.
Support for Maternal Mental Health
In 2016, the Centre for Mental Health published the report ‘Missed Opportunities: A review of recent evidence into children and young people’s mental health’, which suggested that mental health problems affect one in ten children and young people. It goes on to say that: “A range of interventions can help to protect mental health from pregnancy to age five. Most need to be targeted towards families who have the highest risks or children who are showing early signs of distress.”
The Duchess of Cambridge requested research into further interventions, alongside the programmes and platforms already in development, which could provide support for mothers-to-be and new mothers. As a result, towards the end of 2018 we will launch initiatives designed to reduce the stigma of maternal mental health difficulties and improve related knowledge and understanding.
We will collaborate with the Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) to support new initiatives and work with other organisations within the MMHA for this purpose.
As a major part of her future work, The Duchess has been working with The Foundation to develop an overarching programme on early intervention, pulling together her three key themes of support for mothers, parents and teachers to give children a better start in life.
Partnership across the Armed Forces Community
In October 2017, The Foundation signed an agreement with the Ministry of Defence, agreeing to work together in line with its Mental Health Defence Strategy Paper, working to change the conversation about mental health across HM Forces. The belief is that we can help our serving personnel to adopt a more positive and constructive understanding about promoting good mental fitness across the military.
For more than two years we have been supporting Contact – a federation of charities, public sector bodies and academia who have come together to facilitate better delivery of mental health service to the Armed Forces Community.
As an active member and provider of funding, we will help to place the good management of mental health at the heart of the training and support provided to the entire defence community.
All of us have mental health. So, the more we all get behind this topic, the more we can help not just the individuals suffering, but also their entire families and work colleagues as well. Together we will break the stigma forever and save lives.