It is the first of two engagements focused on mental health for the Duchess today. Tonight, she will attend the black-tie 100 Women in Finance Gala Dinner at her patronage, the V&A Museum, in aid of Heads Together's legacy programme Mentally Healthy Schools. The engagements are leading up to the launch of Kate's early years project.
Kensington Palace said: "This event forms part of The Duchess’ continuing work at The Royal Foundation, where much of Her Royal Highness’s focus is on supporting and promoting the mental health of children and young people."
The conference brought together delegates from across the mental health and education sectors to explore and discuss the benefits of collaborative working and what more can be done to tackle mental health issues in schools.
Kate met Head Teachers from a number of schools that are currently piloting The Royal Foundation’s ‘Mentally Healthy Schools’ programme.
Launched by Kate last year, ‘Mentally Healthy Schools’ is a website giving primary schools free access to hundreds of the highest quality mental health resources, helping teachers better support their pupils’ mental health.
The Duchess met speakers and charity representatives.
They discussed the impact of Mentally Healthy Schools in classrooms.
Host Kate Silverton welcomed the Duchess: "Your Royal Highness, it's an absolute honour to have you with us here today, thank you for all the work that you are doing in this field. As you all know she has been a great driving force behind much of the Royal Foundation supporting children in their earliest years."
The Royal Foundation's CEO Lorraine Heggessey delivered opening remarks. Speakers on the panel included representatives from Place2Be and the Anna Freud Centre.
Kate listened to a number of sessions, including one on the benefits of integrating mental health modules into teacher training courses, and another on the role of school leaders in creating a culture of wellbeing in schools. Below Kate with Place2Be Chief Executive Catherine Roche.
Ms Roche participated in discussions at the conference.
The panel discussed research into children's mental health and the latest statistics.
The Duchess then joined a meeting with teachers and specialists from the sector to further discuss the potential impact of consistent mental health teacher training.
Teachers described lack of training as a "key barrier".
Kate looks through notes and findings during the meeting.
Simon Perry reports:
'During a private round table discussion at Wednesday’s Mental Health in Education conference, Kate — in a tweed suit by Dolce and Gabbana — met with 11 professionals to discuss the potential impact of consistent mental health training for teachers as well as the challenges facing its implementation.
“When I first started out – and I’ve learned a lot in a short period of time working with organizations – I was very naive myself as a parent of really just how important particularly the early years are for children’s futures,” said the royal mom of three – Prince George, 5, Princess Charlotte, 3, and Prince Louis, 10 months.
“And how critical it is, everyone looking after children at a critical time, teachers, parents, and everyone who’s caring for them, how important it is that we get it right,” she continued. “I didn’t know what some of the issues that perhaps we take for granted here as experts know about, but it’s being able to translate it to those who don’t have the training in a way that the points come across clearly.”
Although Kate wasn't intending to speak today, she was so impressed by the conference she felt compelled to address guests. Just before she was due to leave, the Duchess told staff she had prepared an impromptu speech. Kate said: "I wasn't actually planning on speaking but I just want to say a few words of reflection after today's wonderful speakers. It's really so exciting to hear everyone here speaking with your wealth of experience about the importance of mental health and particularly the emotional development of our children and teachers."
The Duchess continued: "What you've all been discussing here today really brings to life the vital role that teachers are playing in supporting our youngest children's mental health. Thank you all for your dedication to this important cause. Over the last eight years of working with charities, I've met some of our experts in mental health, addiction, family breakdown, homelessness and education. They have taught me over and over again the root causes of so many of today's social problems can be traced right back to earliest years of a person's life and often over generations. The scientific and other evidence is clear - the first few years of a child's life are more pivotal for development and for future health and happiness than any other single moment in our lifetime".
'It is also clear that the positive development of our children is directly linked to those who care for them, teachers, carers and parents.
And as we have heard today, it is therefore vital that we support teachers with their own wellbeing so that they can find the best level of care for all children, in their schools and communities in which they work. No one of us however can make a difference alone.
I feel so passionately about working together and being here today has affirmed to me just how much already is being done, so thank you to all of you who are prioritising the importance of mental health and the importance of childhood development as a whole. I look forward to hearing how your discussions will lead to proactive steps and to an ever more resounding commitment to mentally healthy schools, teachers and children.'
A video from the conference.
The Duchess was stylish in a Dolce & Gabbana bouclé skirt suit for the event. Initially, it was thought the bespoke ensemble was Chanel - the suit is very reminiscent of their classic designs. It's a very professional choice and the jacket is beautifully tailored. Although the look has proved very popular, Kate's glossy locks have been the talking point today. The style, colour and length all look fabulous.
A closer look at the fabric and buttons.
The jacket is very similar to the D&G Double-Breasted blazer shown below. It features a lapel collar, multicoloured pattern and snap button closure.
Kate wore her trusty Tod's suede block pumps.
Kate carried her Mulberry suede clutch.
And Kiki McDonough white topaz cushion drop earrings.
A closer look.
It was a very interesting engagement, it seemed particularly fitting for Kate to speak at this event as children's mental health is at the very core of her work with the Royal Foundation. I thought the speech was delivered very well, it's a cause close to her heart and one's she's very well informed on. I've always said one of the key advantages of William being second-in-line is the fact it affords the Cambridges the time to really focus on specific areas they care deeply about. Children's mental health is Kate's cause.
We'll see you in just a few hours for the 100 Women in Finance Gala!