Prince William praises 'Heads Together' campaign as £2m boost announced

Prince William praised the "fantastic" work of the royal Heads Together campaign, as his charity announced a £2 million investment towards a new mental health start-up company.

On a visit to Imperial College London's Data Observatory on Friday, William learned about the campaign's progress in its drive to "change the conversation on mental health".

The start-up, which has yet to be named, will create digital signposts to direct people to mental health services online, and other tools promoting conversation between those struggling with their mental wellbeing.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry at the London Marathon in April. Credit: PA

The £2 million grant represents the largest single donation The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry has made since it began operating in 2011.

During his visit, William was shown a collection of data visualisations from the biggest ever series of surveys on mental health involving 14,000 members of the British public.

The surveys suggested that a total 1.5 million more people (3%) were talking about mental health in May compared to February 2017, when the surveys were launched, with a 12% increase in the number of those admitting to talking about their own mental health.

With the Heads Together runners before the London Marathon. Credit: PA

The demonstrations also showed the impact of initiatives such as Heads Together's official charity status in the 2017 London marathon, after which the campaign's eight charity partners saw large increases in referrals to their respective mental health services.

Mind's information line experienced its busiest ever day after the marathon, with 58% more calls than normal.

After hearing about the work of the campaign, William said: "Wow. Lots of figures. Amazing," and added that it had been "fantastic" to see data about the campaign's impact around the UK.

However, noting that there was still more to do in promoting willingness to talk about personal mental health issues, William expressed concern that three in four suicides in the UK are men.

He said: "That's still a worrying statistic though, it really is."

At the Global Academy in Hayes, London, in support of the Heads Together campaign. Credit: PA

The campaign now aims to move into its second phase, where it plans to further enable people to talk about their mental health, including through the work of the foundation's new start-up company.

Asked if the campaign had got off to a good start, Mr Farmer said: "I'd go a little further than that. I think it's been a really good start that is creating a platform for changing the conversation around mental health."

The former director of programmes at The Royal Foundation, Victoria Hornby, will become the chief executive of the digital innovation start-up when it begins operating in January 2018.

She said: "The new digital start-up will bring together experts in mental health and technology to find and create new solutions.

"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 to find the right place to talk."