The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex joined forces to create Shout - a new text messaging line that supports people in crisis. Since last year the foursome have been working with the Royal Foundation to create the much-needed service. The official launch was held at Kensington Palace yesterday, with William and Kate there to speak about their vision for the initiative. Volunteers and guest speakers were invited, in addition to a number of royal reporters. To mark the launch, William recorded a video message featuring footage from a private visit he undertook in February. The video features clips from several of Kate's engagements focused on mental health.
I had hoped the Palace would release a video of William and Kate's remarks; I asked two royal reporters and as far as they understand we won't see anything released. We might not have photos, however we do have a little inside info. More from royal reporter Rebecca English.
More from Rebecca's piece for the Mail Online:
'William said the 'difficult' nature of the conversations may not be for everyone, but hoped the number of volunteers would keep growing.
Smiling, he invited his wife Kate, dressed in a striped jumper and ankle-grazing wide-legged trousers, to take the floor. She talked about her work with vulnerable children and the importance of intervening before they develop mental problems.
She added: 'Sadly for so many they have already reached a crisis situation. That's why we believe that Shout is so important.'
Victoria Murphy was also there. More from her report for Town & Country:
'Addressing a room of invited media and supporters, William said that since he, Kate, and Harry launched mental health campaign Heads Together in 2016 it has gained more traction “than we actually believed it would.”
Pointing out their aim was to produce something tangible to effect lasting change, he continued, “Over the last year, together with now Meghan as well, we’ve been working behind the scenes with the incredible team at Mental Health Innovations on a special new project to deliver those legacies.”
Addressing the launch event, Kate said, “We feel that Shout is so important. It’s able to offer support when it’s crucially needed, and the opportunity to turn lives around. It also provides that wonderful opportunity for flexible volunteering, something I feel really passionate about too.”
Kensington Palace said: "Shout operates 24/7 and connects people in need to trained volunteers who provide help at a time when it is most needed; enabling them to move from a moment of crisis to a calm state and form a plan for next steps to find longer-term support. As texting is private and silent, it opens up a whole new way to find help. It provides instant support - you can have a conversation at any time – at school, at home, on the bus, anywhere. This service is for everyone, but for younger people especially, texting is a trusted and familiar form of communication, and using text rather than apps makes it simple and accessible for everyone with a phone. Shout is powered by a team of volunteers who are at the heart of the service. They are trained to create a safe space for people experiencing mental health challenges. The programme is unique with the training and volunteering all done online, under the supervision of qualified clinicians. Working remotely, volunteers are part of a supportive and connected online community of 1,000, with the ambition of boosting that community to 4,000 by the end of the year."
In the video message, Prince William said: "At the heart of this service will be an incredible national volunteer community, one which needs to grow to allow us to support more people in crisis. We hope that many more of you will join us and be part of something very special." He added: "Harry, Meghan, Catherine and I have been able to see the service working up close, and are very excited for its future."
The video included footage of Harry and Meghan from last November, when they joined a panel of volunteers to hear firsthand how they make the connection with vulnerable users.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said:
"We are incredibly excited to be launching this service, knowing it has the potential to reach thousands of vulnerable people every day. Over the last few months Shout has started working quietly behind the scenes. We have all been able to see the service working up close and are so excited for its future.
“At the heart of this service will be an incredible national volunteer community, one which needs to grow to allow us to support more people in crisis. We hope that many more of you will join us and be part of something very special."
The Royal Foundation contacted Crisis Text Line in the US to begin the process of bringing their successful model to the UK. The service has been operating in the United States for six years and has processed over 100 million text messages. Its founder and CEO Nancy Lublin was heavily involved in the creation of Shout and sits on the board. Ms Lublin said: "We are proud of the work Crisis Text Line and our Crisis Counselors has done in the United States to ease the pain of Americans. If other world leaders will follow the lead of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, together, we can end this epidemic of emotional crisis."
Nancy Lublin wrote about a dinner she attended with William:
'When I had dinner seated next to him in November 2016, it occurred to me that Prince William is doing for mental health what his mother Diana did for AIDS: be the first to shine light on an issue mired in stigma. Embracing the issue and people with AIDS, she changed everything. Already we see more celebrities, funding, orgs, and media attention for the suicide epidemic and mental health thanks to the efforts of Diana’s sons and their wives. We’re grateful they selected us to be part of their movement.'
Shout will serve as a lasting legacy to the Heads Together campaign. Launched in 2016 by William, Kate and Harry, Heads Together was driven by their desire to destigmatise mental health and start conversations all over the world. Following a year-long campaign, YouGov noted a significant change in the public’s approach to mental health. 83% of people surveyed said they had spoken about their mental health. I've been excited to see its continuation and Shout is a fantastic next step. It is the biggest initiative of the Royal Foundation to date, with a £3 million investment.
Anyone wishing to contact the support line can do so by texting Shout to 85258.
We'll see Kate on Tuesday when she returns to Bletchley Park!