THE BLOG

Young Minds Matter Proved We Can Start a Global Movement to Reduce Stigma Around Mental Health

17/02/2016 21:44 | Updated 17 February 2016
Chris Jackson via Getty Images

Today history was made. It was a turning point for a generation of young people and children who could start to benefit from the Young Minds Matter campaign, launched on The Huffington Post UK by The Duchess Of Cambridge.

And that's not just me blowing my HuffPost UK trumpet. I was told it today by Professor Peter Fonagy, one of the country's leading clinical psychologists and chief executive of leading mental health charity the Anna Freud Centre.

This morning my team and I set up shop in London's historic Kensington Palace as The Duchess of Cambridge guest edited our website on the topic of mental health awareness in children and reducing the stigma surrounding it. This kind of event has never happened before, may never happen again, and it turned out to be quite a big deal.

We transformed one of the rooms at the palace into a newsroom and held an editorial conference with my editors, the Duchess and thought leaders in the mental health sector.

The hashtag #youngmindsmatter was top Twitter trend in the UK, and also trended globally, while countless news outlets around the world took the time to come to the palace and cover the story. And good on them for doing it.

The Huffington Post UK has long been committed to changing the way we talk about mental health. We did it with our Building Modern Men series last November when we covered how the epidemic of male suicide is almost being ignored. We also made it a central pillar of our Beyond the Ballot coverage for the UK's general election.

How we talk about mental health matters to my team and I, it really does. Today, I think we managed to show the world how a successful digital news publisher can play a significant part in kickstarting a global movement.

Today was just the beginning. Making change is a slow and complex process, but I want the body of work we've produced, with the close help and instruction of the Duchess in her role as guest editor, to start to a global conversation.

As the Duchess wrote in her launch blog: "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."

I'd personally like to thank everyone who has helped spread the message of #youngmindsmatter today, all those who blogged, or tweeted, shared a story or even simply spoke about it to their friends, family and children. Thank you.

I'd love to hear your stories of how this campaign has started to make a difference. We'll be covering Young Minds Matter relentlessly and I hope you can join us.

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