Royals join forces for first time to launch mental health text line
Prince William, Prince Harry, Meghan and Kate have teamed up together for the launch of a helpline aimed at people suffering from mental health issues.
The royals, working together for the launch of a project for the first time, backed the initiative called Shout with a £3m grant from their Royal Foundation.
The service is a text message helpline aimed at helping people struggling from a "tough moment" and who want to move from "crisis to calm".
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Since last autumn the royal couples have been making private visits to the volunteers behind Shout, which connects people experiencing problems – from suicidal thoughts and relationship issues to bullying – with trained volunteers who can provide help.
William and Kate attended the launch event at Kensington Palace, while Harry and Meghan were absent following the birth of their young baby boy Archie earlier this week.
Speaking at the event, Prince William said: “With the biggest investment by the Royal Foundation to date we are today able to formally launch Shout – a new UK-wide service that connects vulnerable people in a state of crisis to trained volunteers who are there to help.
“The service is free to use, anonymous, and operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“The conversations are run by volunteers who have completed 25 hours of online training, and are monitored by an exceptional clinical team. Over the course of the last year 1,000 volunteers have signed up, and 60,000 conversations have taken place.
“That is 60,000 moments when people who were feeling scared, frightened and alone were able to use their phone to connect with someone who could support them.”
Kate also spoke and highlighted Shout’s appeal for more volunteers following the end of its 12-month pilot scheme.
She said: “For the last few years, I’ve been focusing much of my work on the importance of prevention in the earliest years of life to help avoid problems in later life.
“But, sadly, for so many, they have already reached a crisis situation. This is why Shout is so important. It is able to offer support when it is crucially needed, and the opportunity to turn lives around.”
Shout was researched and developed by the Royal Foundation, the Cambridges and Sussexes charity, and is modelled on the American-based Crisis Text Line, which launched in August 2013, and has processed over 100 million messages.
William has appeared in a video to help launch the project and is seen meeting volunteers, as are Meghan and Harry who were filmed during a private visit last year.
In the footage the Duke of Cambridge makes an appeal for volunteers to join Shout.
Lorraine Heggessey, the Royal Foundation’s chief executive officer, said: “Our unique model and the influence of Their Royal Highnesses has enabled us to develop this innovative solution to tackle one of today’s biggest challenges – the increasing number of people needing mental health support.
“The pilot stages have demonstrated the huge need for this service and the potential impact it can have.”
The Institute of Global Health Innovation (IGHI) at Imperial College London will work with MHI to develop insights into mental health.
IGHI director, Professor Ara Darzi, said: “The prevalence of mental health is increasing and we need to be creative in the way we deliver services in the future. The rapid growth of digital innovations in health is opening up a host of new opportunities to respond to this challenge.
“The exciting partnership between the Institute of Global Health Innovation and Mental Health Innovations provides a unique opportunity to identify trends and harness the power of these digital tools to help shape the provision of these critical services.”