The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry attend the 'mental health marathon' marking a new movement for mental health

24th April 2017 By: Anastasia Bow-Bertrand

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry and thousands of runners in headbands helped make yesterday’s Virgin Money London Marathon the first ever ‘mental health marathon’ with the Heads Together campaign the official marathon charity for 2017.

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With each of the 39,000 runners receiving an exclusive blue Heads Together headband in their runner pack, the marathon course was awash with runners, supporters and volunteers banding together to show their support for the ‘mental health marathon’ to help get the country talking and to start a new movement for mental health.

Their Royal Highnesses, who spearhead the Heads Together campaign of which the Anna Freud National Centre is a charity partner, popped up in various locations along the 26.2-mile course around London. They met many of the 700 runners that make up Team Heads Together at Blackheath, before starting the iconic event.

With the first Heads Together runners over the startline, their Royal Highnesses then travelled along the route to join supporters and cheer everyone along. They were spotted handing out water to thirsty runners at mile 22 and were on hand to present medals after the finish outside Buckingham Palace and at a special post-race reception held at the Royal Society.

A lively and enthusiastic group of Young Champions, clinicians, friends, family and colleagues joined the official Anna Freud National Centre cheer point at mile 11 just south of the river. Just before the halfway point, the many creative costumes – and runners – were all largely intact with a spectacle of elite athletes, guided runners and a mix of running telephone boxes, giraffes and other truly inspiring competitors to encourage.

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The supportive atmosphere had all those at the cheer-point fooled into thinking a marathon really wasn’t so challenging to run, especially with Anna Freud National Centre runners clocking up outstanding finish times. Firsts and personal bests were achieved by many, and there was much cause to celebrate.

Rosa Town, Research Assistant at the Anna Freud National Centre who has been engaged with the campaign since World Mental Health Day last October, met again with the Duchess of Cambridge at the special post-race reception before celebrating with fellow runners with well-deserved muscle massages and champagne.

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The mental health marathon is the culmination of a year of campaigning to change the conversation on mental health. This has included a series of #oktosay films featuring people from all walks of life talking about their mental health which you can watch here.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry said:

"Since we launched Heads Together last May, we have seen time and time again that shattering stigma on mental health starts with simple conversations. When you realise that mental health problems affect your friends, neighbours, children and spouses, the walls of judgement and prejudice around these issues begin to fall. And we all know that you cannot resolve a mental health issue by staying silent."

And the journey doesn’t stop here. Following the London Marathon, Heads Together and The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry will continue the momentum that has built up to help change the national conversation on mental health. The campaign will also back new initiatives to help people talk about mental health and find the support they need which will include major new digital initiatives, support for research and training and ongoing campaigning about the power of conversations.

For one Anna Freud National Centre runner, Therri Tait, one marathon isn’t enough as she continues preparations for an epic run of 150 miles in 6 days across the Mojave Desert in California. You can support her here http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/TherriTait. So far, we have raised an incredible £54,609.12 including gift aid. You can celebrate all of our runners’ efforts by donating here: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/HTforAnnaFreud

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