In a move which reinforces their commitment to mental health, the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry has announced a £2 million grant to establish a new start-up for digital innovations to boost mental health among the people of the United Kingdom. The start-up will develop new tools and services to encourage mental health conversations among people and enable them to access the required support. The grant represents the largest single investment ever made by the Foundation since its inception in 2011.
The digital innovation start-up is the next phase in the Heads Together campaign, spearheaded by the Royals. During the campaign, it was found that people needed to be equipped with better tools to get them talking about mental health. Since younger people are more likely to use technology – phones, email and social media – for mental health discussions and help, the start-up will prioritize tools, especially targeting them. Victoria Hornby, CEO of the new start-up, said, “We want to use the power of technology to reach the millions of people, especially young people, who feel isolated and alone, and help them find the right place to talk.”
Every year, the World Health Organization (WHO) observes October 10 as the World Mental Health Day to raise awareness about mental health issues and channelize support for better mental health. To observe this event, the Royals will start the day by thanking all those who helped make the Heads Together campaign successful.
Initiative aims to break mental health stigma
The Heads Together campaign comprised a string of high-profile initiatives, such as the #OkToSay films with celebrities like Lady Gaga, the London Marathon and Prince Harry’s candid interview about his own mental health. The publicity arising from these initiatives had inspired more people, especially men, to overcome the stigma and start conversations about their mental health difficulties. A survey by YouGov, a U.K.-based online market research firm, noted a significant change in people’s attitude towards mental health between February and May 2017, when the Heads Together campaign was at its peak.
Overall, there was a “slow and steady increase” in mental health discussions – an additional 1.5 million people (3 percent) were discussing mental health in May compared to February. Of particular note was the finding that more men were willing to talk about their mental health during this time, almost catching up with the women. In February, 45 percent men and 52 percent women discussed their own mental health, which increased to 60 percent and 61 percent, respectively, by May. At the campaign’s peak, 1.2 million more men discussed their own mental health.
At a presentation to view the findings of the impact created by Heads Together, Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, termed the progress “fantastic”. The Royal Foundation will use the findings to help more people with mental health issues and facilitate their transition from conversations to taking tangible steps. Thus, the need of the hour is to recognize the mental problem and get timely treatment for it.
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