On Tuesday, Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, announced a new initiative that will provide free mental health resources for teachers and school staff to help them help their students tackle mental health challenges. It’s part of the Duchess’ Heads Together mental health campaign, which she launched with William, the Duke of Cambridge, and Prince Henry of Wales.
While Heads Together works to help everyone feel more comfortable talking about their mental health, Middleton has often emphasized the importance of children’s mental health. Now, with the online resource they’re calling Mentally Healthy Schools, every primary school in the U.K. will have free access to mental health resources meant to help children succeed.
“The ultimate goal is that no primary school teacher, anywhere in the country, should have to wonder where to turn when it comes to the well-being of children in their care,” Middleton said in a speech at Roe Green Junior School in London on Tuesday.
Teachers are sometimes the first line of defense when it comes to noticing early warning signs of mental health troubles, like seeming sad and withdrawn, suddenly shifting in temperament and acting in ways that seem like “bad behavior,” like getting into fights and having trouble concentrating.
According to the Child Mind Institute, one in five children in the U.S. has a mental health or learning disorder, and 80 percent of chronic mental disorders begin in childhood. In the U.K., mental health problems affect about 1 in 10 children and young people, and 70 percent of children and young people who experience a mental health problem have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age, says the Mental Health Foundation, a mental health nonprofit based in the U.K.
Middleton said Mentally Healthy Schools’ main purpose is to intervene early so children struggling can get mental health support before their problems become more serious.
“When we intervene early in life, we help avoid problems that are much more challenging to address in adulthood,” Middelton said in her speech. “My own commitment is to the youngest and most vulnerable in their early years – babies, toddlers and primary school-age pupils – and to support all those who care for them, including teachers.”
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Lead image via Kensington Palace Twitter