Our Heads Together year

16th May 2017 By: Anastasia Bow-Bertrand

Heads Together, the mental health campaign spearheaded by Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry of which we are a charity partner, celebrates its first birthday today.

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One year ago, Their Royal Highnesses launched the Heads Together campaign with the Olympic Stadium in the background and set out their shared ambition to change the conversation on mental health.

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The campaign was first set up to build on the great work that is already taking place across the country, to ensure that people feel comfortable with their everyday mental wellbeing, feel able to support their friends and families through difficult times, and that stigma no longer prevents people getting the help they need.

Today, we are sharing this film produced by Heads Together, offering a quick spin through the last 12 months, and highlighting that when we get our Heads Together we can achieve great things. At the Anna Freud National Centre we are also taking a moment to recap what we got up to in our first year as a charity partner of the campaign.

On Father’s Day we celebrated the role that fathers and father figures play in supporting our emotional wellbeing. Brian and Dante Matthews, a father and son who have had therapy at the Centre met the Duke of Cambridge and other dads, mentors and children at a special Heads Together breakfast.

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Brian said: “The Duke was very down to earth. We were just talking like normal people but my heart was racing! He asked about my relationship with my son and how we are together.”

In July, the British summer gifted us a sunny day as Prince Harry donned his apron and hosted a Heads Together BBQ with sports stars Rio Ferdinand, Dame Kelly Holmes, Victoria Pendleton and Iwan Thomas amongst others. The Prince talked to guests about the tough times that they have been through and the support that has helped. Vera, a mum of two from Camden, joined Prince Harry and the sporting greats.

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Vera volunteers on our parents’ panel and deliver training on a peer-led being a parent course. She said: “I strongly believe that sport and social support are so important for both mental and physical wellbeing and help us to develop a positive attitude towards life.”

On World Mental Health Day, which took place on 10th October, we focused on the theme of ‘psychological first aid’. We joined their Royal Highnesses and invited guests at the London Eye to raise awareness of mental health and take the opportunity to hear the stories of people who have been affected by mental health difficulties and to thank those who played a supportive role in their lives.

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Jessica Parker, one of our Young Champions who contributed to our expert Child in Mind podcast series, joined Their Royal Highnesses in a pod on the London Eye and shared how her Mum supported her through an eating disorder. Other guests involved with the Centre through the Family School also attended.

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On World Mental Health Day, Heads Together also marked the start of London Marathon planning as the chosen campaign for the 2017 event. One of our runners, Rosa Town, Research Assistant at the Centre, met with Prince Harry and Their Royal Highnesses to share her own motivation for getting running in support of the Anna Freud National Centre.

Fast forward to this New Year, and their Royal Highnesses announced the next phase of the campaign, reiterating the aim to create millions of conversations around mental health. The Duchess of Cambridge reflected on her visit to our Early Years Parenting Unit in January saying: “Just last week at the Anna Freud Centre I heard from one mother how talking to a support worker was in her words – like medicine. Simply by having someone there to have a conversation with will help her immensely”.

Most recently, their Royal Highnesses and thousands of runners in headbands came together to help make this year’s Virgin Money London marathon the first event ‘mental health marathon’. A lively and enthusiastic group of Young Champions, clinicians, friends and colleagues joined our cheer point at mile 11 to cheer on our own 14 runners, including Rosa, as well as the 700 strong Heads Together team and all the other inspiring competitors.

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

And the journey didn’t stop there. Following Marathon day, Heads Together supported our work during Mental Health Awareness week, sharing collaborative work prepared for the campaign over the past year about how to manage difficult conversations, how to get talking and how to help change the national conversation on mental health.

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Over the coming months, the campaign will back new initiatives to help people talk about mental health and find support through major new digital initiatives, support for research and training and on-going campaigning about the power of conversations.

What a year it has been! We can’t wait to show you these plans and how you can get involved. Thank you for helping us to get our heads together.

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