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When Harry met Matt: counselling class with the Royals

CALM volunteer Matt Kynaston went along to The Mix end of year party in North Kensington, as part of the Head’s Together campaign, where he took some counselling workshops and had a chat about investment in mental health with Prince Harry.

The Mix is a charity that supports under 25s through free and confidential digital channels like phone, email or online chat. Last month they threw a party to celebrate their volunteers and supporters and invited along other London based charities supporting young people with mental health issues.
It was a chilly winter’s morning, just before Christmas. But this didn’t stop dozens of volunteers and charity representatives showing up from all over London.

With Prince Harry, Prince William and The Duchess Of Cambridge in attendance, it was also a good opportunity to bring the discussion around mental health to the forefront.

Attendees could get involved in two different workshops. I joined one session facilitated by The Mix itself, ‘Demystifying Counselling’. We used The Mix’s online chat facility to pose questions in the same way that young people would seek advice from their team of The Mix’s trained counsellors. It was a really good session, learning about the different types of therapy and counselling options available. I was struck by how simple it was to use the Mix’s resources.

The second session was an excellent myth debunking discussion around youth suicide facilitated by Papyrus, a national charity for the prevention of young suicide. For example, one of the biggest myths around suicide is – if someone is showing clear signs of depression, it’s best to avoid the topic of suicide in case it gives them an idea. This is not true. The chances are, if someone is depressed they’re already very likely to have considered suicide anyway. It’s best to be up front and ask some straightforward, yet sensitive questions.

Are you thinking about suicide?
Have you made any plans for taking your own life?

You’re actually giving the person you’re supporting the chance to talk to someone about it, possibly for the first time. By normalising their thoughts, they are then more likely to be able to engage with you, you’re more likely to be able to help them and potentially help save their life.

Advice on how to talk to someone you’re worried about >

Prince Harry tells me about investment in mental health services










After the workshops, we enjoyed the Mix’s end of year celebration by making ginger bread houses, Christmas decorations and painting baubles. The Royal Duke and Duchess of Cornwall, along with Prince Harry were keen to get involved and meet some more of the attendees. I got a chance to talk with HRH Prince Harry. He was keen to discuss investment in mental health services and pointed out that we spend about £60 billion a year dealing with society’s poor mental health – a figure similar to what can be found in the King’s Fund Report. Obviously if we invest more money in our mental health services, then we would be spending out less on things like lost wages, ambulance and police call outs and other support services.

We spend about £60 billion a year dealing with society’s poor mental health.

And this was only the economic argument. Overall we need to be prioritising our own mental health as well as looking out for those around us. The chat with Prince Harry left me hopeful that as we normalise these conversations, we may start to see some progress in terms of our collective mental health. It’s great to have such high profile names with far-reaching platforms onside.

More information on Heads Together >

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