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Royals in ‘television takeover’ for mental health campaign

The Every Mind Matters campaign aims to empower people to manage the early symptoms of poor mental health.

The Dukes and Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex will voice a new mental health campaign during a “national takeover” that will be simultaneously broadcast to millions of television viewers.

The royal quartet will narrate a short film launching the Every Mind Matters campaign – an initiative from Public Health England (PHE) and the NHS to empower people to manage the early symptoms of poor mental health.

The three-minute video, featuring the likes of Gillian Anderson and Davina McCall, will be screened simultaneously during ad breaks on Sky, Channel 4, ITV, Channel 5 and MTV at 8.45pm on Monday.

It will be introduced by presenter Clare Balding before being shown to an estimated 10.3 million UK viewers in what is believed to be a “broadcaster first”.

Narrating the video, William begins: “Everyone knows that feeling, when life gets on top of us.

“All over the country, millions of us face challenges to our mental health – at all ages – at all intensities, and for all sorts of reasons.

“We feel stressed, low, anxious, or have trouble sleeping. Me, you…”

Harry continues: “…your brother, your mother, your colleague, or your neighbour. Waiting, wondering, hoping, hurting.

“We think there’s nothing to be done. Nothing we can do about it.”

Meghan then counters: “But that’s so wrong. There are things we can do. From today, there’s a new way to help turn things around. Every Mind Matters will show you simple ways to look after your mental health.”

Kate continues: “It’ll get you started with a free online plan designed to help you deal with stress, boost your mood, improve your sleep and feel more in control.”

The platform, which has been endorsed by the Royal College of GPs, will allow users to take a health quiz and offer them a personalised “mind plan” with practical tips around managing anxiety, low mood, sleep and stress.

Health officials hope it will empower people to practically manage their symptoms to stop their mental health escalating, which would in time reduce pressure on clinical services and free up capacity.

The website also points users to existing apps which can help them keep track of good habits to protect their wellbeing.

It comes as a new PHE survey of more than 3,000 adults in England found that 83% of respondents had experienced early signs of poor mental health in the last year including feeling anxious, stressed, having low mood or trouble sleeping

Over a quarter of these waited longer than six months before taking action, with more than half reporting coping mechanisms including smoking, drinking or unhealthy eating and avoiding social situations.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the project harnesses the “power of modern technology to do good when we know it also can help contribute to some of these problems”.

He added: “It draws together the importance of treating our mental health on an equal basis to our physical health, and treating it both as an asset that each individual needs to invest in, supported by the NHS and by the Government, as opposed to just something that just needs to be fixed when it goes wrong.”

NHS England’s national mental health director Claire Murdoch said the campaign “absolutely signals a sea change in awareness and attitudes to mental health”.

She said: “We do need digital social media, wider society, celebrities, industry, to step up to the plate and stop stoking the fires that can drive so much ill health in society, whether that’s idealised body image, cosmetic procedures, diet products, gaming and gambling – we are bombarded by it.

“So I think this is a fantastic example of how those components of society can come together for good to promote better mental health.”

Extra content will be added to the site over time, including material on how to manage perinatal mental health and advice for parents on how to support their children.

For those without internet access, paper materials will be placed in places such as libraries, while GPs will be encouraged to direct patients towards the new resource.

John Newton, director of Health Improvement at PHE, said the core target of the platform is people who are developing early symptoms of poor mental health, but that evidence has shown it can also help people with “quite severe mental illness”.

He added: “We are trying to get across this message that nobody in the world has ever tried to do anything on this scale before.

“The evidence tells you what happens in relatively small populations when you provide self-directed tools, so we would expect it to be beneficial, but what hasn’t been done before is to try and do this on a national scale, so we are very keen to learn… because if this is shown to be effective then it may have implications for other countries as well.”

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