Introducing Young Minds Matter

03/02/2016 10:57 | Updated 17 February 2016
Joe Giddens/PA Wire


'Children should be seen but not heard' is a dreary old throwback of a phrase that should have died away with the Victorians. Yet in today's ultra-connected world, where we are empowered to communicate in ultra-efficient ways, many children find it's a saying which still has an unsettling relevance.

Thousands and thousands of British children are not spoken to, listened to or thought about, let alone seen. The result is a silent crisis that has crept up on us. In the UK today there are an estimated 70,000 11-year-olds currently living with a mental health issue - that's enough people to fill Manchester United's football stadium.

It is estimated that three children in every British school classroom has a mental health problem and symptoms of depression are evident in a fifth of children. It's no surprise that related issues such as anxiety and suicide roll seamlessly on into adult life leaving a trail of missed opportunity, unfulfilled potential and loss.

The most recent suicide data from the UK's Office for National Statistics paints a picture of childhood issues playing out fatally in adult life. In 2013 there were 6,233 registered suicides of people over the age of 15, a 4% increase on 2012.

Recent research suggests more than half of parents in England have never spoken to their children about stress, anxiety or depression. Of those, around 20% do not know how to address the issue. The need for solutions doesn't match the supply.

Now is the time to give a voice to this urgent issue so we can re-imagine a society that works to make mental health in our children a top priority.

On 17 February, Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cambridge, will join editors at HuffPost UK as guest editor to specifically help raise awareness of this issue and help us launch Young Minds Matter.

Using the hashtag #youngmindsmatter we will discuss the problems, causes and also most importantly the solutions to the stigma surrounding the UK's mental health crisis among children.

Finding solutions is a core value of The Huffington Post globally, which we express through our What's Working approach to news. As Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post, says: "What's Working is about consistently telling the stories of people and communities doing amazing things, overcoming great odds and coming up with solutions to the very real challenges they face. And by shining a light on these stories, we hope that we can scale up these solutions and create a positive contagion." That's our aim with #youngmindsmatter.

Under guidance from Kensington Palace, my team has been working on a series of original articles, blogs and videos commissioned by the Duchess. They all aim to inspire families and teachers to lead the conversation with children about mental health, so youngsters feel loved, valued and listened to.

You'll read about how mindfulness in schools is critical to supporting good mental health in children, how art therapy is helping children affected by mental health issues flourish and how innovative science is solving the mental health problems in primary school children.

The Duchess has always been publicly clear about her passion around this subject, especially in her role as patron for Place2Be. That's why #youngmindsmatter will launch by focusing on the areas she values highly, including programmes aimed to help primary aged children, efforts at early intervention, the importance of breaking the cycle of multi-generational mental health issues and the progress being made through art therapy.

Last April The Huffington Post UK launched Beyond the Ballot - it was our take on covering the British general election. Core to our coverage was how we as a society deal with the issues associated with mental health.

Despite being one of the most pressing problems facing modern Britons, 76% of the population said they didn't even know the relevant mental health policies of the parties standing for government.

Since then that one single fact has acted as an inspiration to my editorial team to try and make a difference to people's lives by kickstarting a conversation around mental health issues.

At The Huffington Post UK we believe how we talk about this issue must to be a two-way conversation. That's why we're encouraging readers to join in by sharing their own views, opinions and experiences on our blogging platform so we can all talk about why #youngmindsmatter.

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