The outing marks William and Kate's first official joint engagement since the Duchess returned from maternity leave with a visit to the Sayers Croft Forest School last week. The summit has been described as "the next step in a journey to a new level of co-operation so that we can improve mental health around the world."
The Duke and Duchess joined political figures, leading academics and policy-makers with one common goal: better mental health for all. The meeting will help countries work together to deal with stigma attached to mental health and address other issues to do with mental ill-health. The summit is being co-hosted by the UK Government.
Around 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem at some point in their life and by 2020 the World Health Organization estimates that mental health conditions will account for 15% of cases of disease in the world. Mental illness is also the biggest cause of lost economic output, with an estimated cost to the global community of nearly US$2.5 trillion a year, which is expected to increase to US$6 trillion by 2030.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:
"This summit is a landmark moment in changing the way mental illness is perceived and treated globally. The world must unite and take this opportunity to deliver parity for mental health so it is treated the same as physical health.
Countries from across the world are in London today to agree action to tackle one of the defining challenges of the 21st century. Whether it’s challenging discrimination, promoting wellbeing at work, adopting new technologies, or empowering young people to take steps to a healthier future, long-lasting commitments will be made at this summit which will be a step towards achieving better mental health care for all."
The couple attended a workstream on 'Children, Young People and the Next Generation' where they heard presentations on two case studies of active mental health programmes from Slovenia and the USA.
More on the workshop:
"When discussing mental health or psycho-social disability we know that early intervention is key, we also know that experiences in childhood can have significant impact in later life. This workshop will consider childhood adversity and early intervention; it will look at how best to prevent mental health conditions in the first instance and support those with early symptoms to avoid those escalating. This workshop will also look at how much more we need to do for young people today, and ask whether technology is a source of help, or harm."
The workstream reflected one of the six key themes being discussed at the summit. Other themes include; Caring societies, A just society, Mental health services around the world, Research and the future of mental health and Economics and investment. Below, William and Kate visited the exhibition area and met representatives from a number of organisations to hear more about their mental health campaigns and programmes.
The couple viewed the work of Dairo Vargas, a contemporary fine artist from Colombia who will be painting an original piece of art at the Summit, inspired by the day's events.
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He chatted to the couple before boldly asking if they would like to add their own special touch to the two metre by two metre artwork, entitled Someone to Turn To, and William immediately demurred and pushed Kate forward saying: ‘My wife, she’s the arty one!’
Laughing Kate, who studied History of Art at St Andrew’s, where she first met her husband, took the brush and joked: ‘Where can you hide it?’. ‘What colour is it?’ asked William. ‘It’s white.‘ Mr Vargas pointed to an area on one of the figure’s shoulders to which a slightly nervous Kate replied: ‘Fine?’. ‘It’s almost ruined the picture,’ joked her husband.
William was then encouraged to take his turn and said: ‘No, this is probably how you ruin a picture. Does it matter where I go?’ ‘You are allowed to go anywhere,’ encouraged Kate. ‘This is a great, great compliment. It’s great to have some creative reason in which the same [mental health] conversations are going on.’ Mr Vargas, who is based in London, later described the couple as ‘great, very fun’.
The video below begins with footage from the meeting.
The painting 'Someone To Turn To'.
Dairo Vargas is a contemporary fine artist who specialises in abstract landscape and portraiture. While the two themes are very different in mood and style, his paintings reflect ethereal qualities of nature and the human physical form. Accepting his first commission at sixteen gave him the confidence to develop as an artist. London-based Vargas graduated from Kensington and Chelsea college of Art in 2008 and is now one of the most promising emerging artists of today. Despite a busy international exhibition schedule, he partners with a number of children’s charities in Britain and abroad, mentoring young people, while also teaching adult art classes for recreation and rehabilitation.
The Duke and Duchess visited a Friendship Bench, part of an innovative programme from Zimbabwe which has taught elderly Zimbabwean women the skills to become city lay health workers.
The Friendship Bench Project aims to reduce the mental health treatment gap by using a cognitive behavioural therapy based approach at primary care level to address 'kufungisisa'. Kufungisisa, the local term for depression, is literally translated into “thinking too much”.
The Duke and Duchess discussed the project with United for Global Mental Health CEO Alisha London.
The event will also see the launch of a short film from Time to Change called ‘It’s time to talk (about mental health)’. The film features A-list American actress Glenn Close and contributors from Nigeria, India, Kenya and the UK. Sue Baker, Director of Time to Change, said: "After generations of mental health being the poor relation to physical health, many of us hope that this first ever global mental health summit will be a tipping point that prioritises more action on mental health. We’ve made major progress on mental health stigma in England, and hope the Summit acts as a springboard for change across all countries and cultures, so that there is no shame attached to mental health anywhere in the world."
The Duchess departing.
The Duchess brought back the much loved lavender Emilia Wickstead dress she wore in Hamburg last year. The dress proved so popular, it was crowned the most popular look of the Poland/Germany visit during a post-tour poll on the blog. It's a lovely colour and really pops in photos.
The dress proved so popular the designer decided to release it and appropriately name it the 'Kate' dress.
Exclusive to Matches Fashion, the £1,420 piece is described as "Emilia Wickstead's wool-crepe Kate dress is an elegantly versatile choice for the social season. It's tailored in the UK with a flattering boat neckline and long darts throughout the front and back of the bodice, then lined with black crepe to ensure a smooth fit." It's available in very limited sizing in navy, pink and red.
Kate's stylish new bag is the lilac Aspinal of London Midi Mayfair Bag (with thanks to Kate's Closet). The £495 croc bag is described as: "Encapsulating timeless vintage-inspired styling, our Midi Mayfair Bag is hand-crafted from the finest deep shine croc print Italian calf leather. Both versatile and luxurious, the structured boxy design features three inner compartments secured with our enduring shield lock clasp. What's more, sumptuous black leather complements any outfit, and makes an exquisite transitional piece from day to night. The flawless finish of the leather's rich, glassy shine and the shimmering grosgrain lining give this accessory a truly elegant feel."
It can be pre-ordered here.
The Mayfair is available in several colours including black, purple and green.
The Duchess wore her trusty Gianvito Rossi praline pumps.
And accessorised with her Mappin & Webb Empress necklace and earrings.
Tomorrow, the Duchess will make her first visit as Royal Patron of the V&A to open the museum's new Photography Centre. Kate will tour the opening display at the Photography Centre entitled Collecting Photography: From Daguerreotype to Digital.