Prince William and Princess Kate were shining a spotlight on mental health and suicide this morning, visiting mental health-focused charities in Bedfordshire, England, and spending time at a children’s hospice.
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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge chatted with young people -- some of whom are recovering from challenges like self mutilation, suicide, bullying and social exclusion. The charities are creating safe places for children struggling with mental health issues.
William and Kate's appearances today marked the first time in a month they have been seen publicly after taking a vacation with their children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, in the South of France, near Biarritz.
Kate, 34, recycled a $350 blue and white poppy dress by one of her favorite designers, LK Bennett. Kate accessorized the dress with her trademark nude heels and clutch and stunning sapphire and diamond earrings.
William and Kate opened the new Youthscape Center in Bute Mills, Luton, about an hour from London, which specializes in projects to support vulnerable children with emotional needs. The charity has a drop-in center for kids which provides them with a safe outlet for expressing themselves and getting the support they need.
Youthscape has worked with selfharmUK, a U.K.-based charity dedicated to help teenagers and young adults understand and recover from self-mutilation.
Other children Kate and William visited today were dealing with grief from the loss of a parent. Kate encouraged one group of young women by telling them they were “courageous and strong.”
William told a young girl who lost her mother at age 14 and had been self-harming herself, "What happened should never have happened to you and you should never have gone through it. The fact you have gone through it and where you are now, you should be really proud.”
The girl later told the Press Association she was grateful for Prince William’s words of support, saying, "I feel so thankful for what he said, especially because he lost his mum at a similar age.”
William and Kate's primary focus today was comforting those coping with suicidal thoughts and telling those who are struggling with mental health challenges that it's OK to ask for help.
Later today, the future king and queen of England will be driving to a hospice center which supports children and young adults at the end stages of life with medical care, complementary therapy, including art therapy, and emotional support.
Mental health is the primary focus of William’s, Kate’s and Prince Harry’s charitable agenda. The young royals, along with Prince Harry, started the Heads Together campaign to end the stigma surrounding mental illness so more young people and families feel comfortable opening up on what was once a taboo subject.
William, Kate and Harry have participated in several public service announcements for the Heads Together campaign using athletes, celebrities and others from all walks of life in their campaign to make teens and young adults aware that mental health is an issue that people from all walks of life struggle with.
Bullying, cyber-bullying, social media, social exclusion and depression are all issues being addressed by the young royals. William, Kate and Harry have said they want people to understand there are safe places to reach out for help before people consider the worst, and that tackling these issues early in life by providing a safe environment for children will have an immeasurable impact on kids later in life.