Thursday, 13 May 2021

The Cambridges Mark Mental Health Awareness Week With West Midlands Visit

To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge travelled to the West Midlands today for engagements "highlighting local organisations that support children and young people".

It follows the release of a video call from last autumn, when the Duchess spoke to Hold Still finalist Niaz and her daughter Romy about the impact of the pandemic on young people's mental health. "Everyone has experienced something together in a way, so there's no shame in talking about it. And that's what we've been really keen to do...break the stigma and try to start conversations around mental health." Kate added she hopes to "start more conversations" surrounding mental health. The Duke and Duchess will also participate in tomorrow's annual Mental Health Minute -- a minute which sees radio stations all over the UK unite to broadcast a message from well-known voices reminding listeners to look after their mental health.

The theme for this year's Mental Health Awareness Week is nature.

The Mental Health Foundation described nature as our "great untapped resource" for a mentally healthy future and is "central" to our psychological and emotional health. Throughout the pandemic and periods of restrictions, taking a walk or spending time outside in the fresh air became something to look forward to. Amidst slowing down from our busy lives, a newfound appreciation for the importance of time spent outdoors was found. I remember last spring feeling struck by how lucky I was to have access to green spaces whilst so many were not as fortunate. For children in particular, it must have been desperately difficult. According to the MHF, we are now less connected with nature and 13% of UK households have no access to a garden.

Mental Health Foundation Chief Executive Mark Rowland said:

'In the first lockdown, I called an elderly friend. She lives alone and had recently had a fall. Separated from her community, she had lost all in-person contact. When I asked her how she had got through it, she told me it was taking daily comfort from watching the birds sing to each other on the fence and the flowers re-emerge from the frosts of winter.

During long months of the pandemic, millions of us turned to nature. Our research on the mental health impacts of the pandemic showed going for walks outside was one of our top coping strategies and 45% of us reported being in green spaces had been vital for our mental health. Websites which showed footage from webcams of wildlife saw hits increase by over 2000%. Wider studies also found that during lockdowns, people not only spent more time in nature but were noticing it more.

It was as if we were re-discovering at our most fragile point our fundamental human need to connect with nature.

We have two clear aims. Firstly, to inspire more people to connect with nature in new ways, noticing the impact that this connection can have for their mental health. Secondly, to convince decision makers at all levels that access to and quality of nature is a mental health and social justice issue as well as an environmental one.

2021 is going be a huge year for nature: a new Environment Bill will go through the UK Parliament which will shape the natural world for generations to come; the UK will host the G7 nations where creating a greener future will be a key priority and a historic international UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) will be hosted in Glasgow in November.

There could not be a more important time to understand the links between nature and mental health.'

Amongst stories shared, Ruth spoke about her affinity with nature throughout her life, saying, "It makes me feel joyful."

The theme is very much in Kate's wheelhouse, marrying two of her areas of focus together. During the unveiling of 'Back to Nature' at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2019, the Duchess said, "I believe that spending time outdoors when we are young can play a role in laying the foundations for children to become happy, healthy adults."

The first stop of the day was the Way Wolverhampton Youth Zone, an organisation supporting young people to transform their lives. Their services focus on health and wellbeing, sports, arts, learning and the Way Cafe.

Located centrally in Wolverhampton, the Way Youth Zone is a youth-led safe space for 8 to 25-year-olds.

William and Kate joined a group of young people as they participated in wellbeing and activity sessions.

The couple also spent time with HeadStart ambassadors. Kensington Palace noted: "Established by the National Lottery Community Fund, HeadStart is a programme designed to improve the resilience and emotional wellbeing of children and young people by giving them the skills they need to address the challenges of modern life. As part of the programme, the Anna Freud Centre, a Heads Together charity partner of which the Duchess is Patron, and University College London are evaluating evidence about new ways to improve the mental health and wellbeing of young people and to prevent serious mental health issues from developing. It includes survey responses from 65,000 children and young people – including many young people from Wolverhampton -- such as those accessing HeadStart support at the Way – about their mental health and the strengths, skills and social connections that support their wellbeing."

Then it was time to enjoy sporting activities much to Kate's delight.

A spot of table tennis.

The couple had plenty of help from youngsters.

Hello! reports:

'The Duchess also showed off her sporty side, as she tried an archery session. Look at the concentration on her face! "Terrible!" she exclaimed after missing the target.

The notoriously competitive couple went head-to-head during a table tennis match. "Come on Catherine!" William said as he encouraged her to join their foursome, "Catherine is really good at table tennis."

When she did, the couple were in their element. "This could go on for hours," said William. "Talk amongst yourselves!"

William joked, "We are still calling ourselves young but we are not. I don’t see myself as that young anymore. I’m nearly 40."

People reports:

'Keisha, one of the young people who showed William and Kate around the center, told reporters, "I asked them about their dog and what they do to be active. They like to walk their dog and spend time with their kids. They like to bake as well and make different foods with their family." 

"They asked questions about what we like to do. I spoke about how I like to dance. Catherine said how she loves to be in nature. She likes to go on walks, and is also interested in sport, as we saw outside with the table tennis. They are very competitive!" she continued.'

From there, the Duke and Duchess visited Base25, an organisation working with 5000 young people every year. They have been operating for over twenty years offering a range of supports and services. The charity offers student placement opportunities for locals and their fundraising effort over half a million pounds benefitting people in Wolverhampton. The Duke and Duchess heard about the tailored support offered and heard from several young people supported by Base25.

The organisation operates with these key values at the centre of everything they do:

Their next port of call was HugglePets, a non-profit "founded in 2018 which uses Animal-Assisted Therapy to help children with SEN disabilities or those experiencing mental health challenges engage with therapy and wellbeing activities". They work closely with a number of schools to offer Animal-Assisted Intervention programmes helping children with their mental wellbeing.

At Loxdale primary school, William and Kate met Barbara the Bearded Dragon and Gus the Guinea Pig.

The Duchess wore a dark blue wool coat by Catherine Walker.

It appears Kate's navy and white polka-dot blouse is a sold out Tory Burch piece (with thanks to Bojana).

The style is available in a dress in limited sizing at Farfetch.

Kate wore her navy wide-leg Jigsaw trousers.

Kate's new earrings are by multi award-winning designer Freya Rose (with thanks to Chrissy). The Mini Hoops with Detachable Pearls are handmade with five fresh water pearls on 18ct gold-plated silver earrings. They are available for £95 on Freya's website and Wolf & Badger.

Kate's Halcyon Days bangle.

Kate wore her Emmy London Josie shoes.

And carried her Smythson Panama clutch.

The Duchess wore a face mask by Amaia Kids.

I'll see you tomorrow with the 'Mental Health Minute' broadcast.


  1. Kate's taylor certainly missed the mark in the break in her trousers. To say they are much to long is a complete understatement. I do believe these trousers have been a point of conversation when she first wore them. Other then the length of her trousers the overall fashion statement is spot on in my opinion.

    1. Caroline in Montana17 May 2021 at 15:32

      I tried to comment over the weekend but was on my phone so I don't think it worked. back at work now so here goes, lol!

      I agree with you USA Granny, I love this whole look except these pants. They are way to long, longer than shown on the model even. they look swampy and wide. really wish she would find the happy medium between super skin tight and this baggy frumpy look, I know its out there. Ill keep hoping but not holding me breath! Thanks Charlotte

  2. It is so encouraging to see the Duke and Duchess out and about again. And getting people to share their stories and experiences during the last year is so important. There have been so many losses and milestones missed.
    It is also encouraging to see the UK slowly opening up. It gives me hope that we in Canada will be able to emerge from our third lockdown soon too!

    1. With no diversion from the truth, the Cambridges are commendable IMS in their efforts to raise awareness about mental health today. My family have followed these initiatives from the start and the couple really are a step ahead. Something that gives us all "hope for the future"


  3. Great look for Kate today. I am glad she represents this worthy cause.

  4. Fashionwise, I particularly like the coat (dramatic in a good way) and the earrings. And I like that Kate is wearing a bracelet -- it looks great and is a bit unusual for her. Looks like a fun day.

  5. Thank you for your post, Charlotte. If you didn't report on this trip I suspect I wouldn't have known about it - none of the mainstream media sites I read featured an article about it. But I'm very glad they are putting in the work anyway and I'm sure the people they met will remember this for a long time to come. I like Kate's new coat!

  6. Great cause but unfortunately it was a fashion miss for me. The trousers are way too long and whole look is not cohesive IMHO

  7. Valerie in Arizona13 May 2021 at 22:24

    Ooh, I went onto the Freya link you posted and, although I didn't buy Kate's earrings I saw a pair of pearl earrings that I figured would be just the thing for my final birthday in my 60s that's coming up.... Thank you Charlotte for all that you do although my husband is less enthusiastic ;)

    1. Valerie, at first my heart dropped into my stomach when I read "final birthday" and thought you might have a fatal diagnosis . . . and then I read it again and realized you must mean your 69th birthday--I HOPE!! Anyway, I hope you have a very happy day with the pearl earrings as a reminder of Kate's work and all other good things.

  8. Wow, another great outing. Good for William and Catherine. I like her look, professional but a bit fun with the blouse and earrings.

  9. That's a lotta navy! Too much, IMO, but I'm glad she wears less dresses

  10. I love the work she does for mental health. loved hearing Ruth's story i totally agree with her nature is so healing

    1. Zora from Prague14 May 2021 at 12:01

      +1, Melissa! Nature can help in an incredible way. Whether it is a garden, a park or a forest, a walk in the fields outside the city or a cycling trip alongside a river, one feels so much better afterwards! I'm happy William and Kate promote being close to nature.
      I liked all today's engagements (my favourite photo is Kate with the guinea pig in on her lap) and I love Kate's coat!

  11. Hello !
    they both do a very good job to highlight the importance of mantle health. Fashion side: I like everything except the pants, I find them too long and too wide. And I love her hair, it is beautiful!
    Marie from France

  12. Wow the work of the Duke and duchess of Cambridge is great to talk to the people and encouraging each person in the room and listening to them is great help I applaud the Duke and duchess of Cambridge plus the fact it's great help for them by the way I love the duchess of Cambridge outfit and I love the fact that they have a concern to their towards people lives and these Pandemic will all need encouraging from people we love and see the higher up standing in own terms to help people...

  13. I think Catherine looks absolutely stunning

  14. My son and I were enchanted by the name "Barbara the Bearded Dragon." I would have been petting her and letting my husband have the guinea pig.

    This is great work they are doing.

  15. Susan in Florida15 May 2021 at 19:50

    I hope they do get mental health conversations going. My Mom and I were talking about the pandemic and how in previous generations , people suffered by themselves mentally because getting help or going to a group was considered shameful. I can’t imagine how they processed the 1918 Flu, and one or both World Wars. I’m so grateful to have lived in the era of the internet during this whole COVID pandemic. It’s kept more people in touch with each other. Including all of us on this blog. Thank you m Charlotte !


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