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Celebrating World Mental Health Day: support in times of crisis

Guests from Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families joined The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry to celebrate the support we give each other through difficult times at a special World Mental Health Day event.


The event was held at The London Eye on the Southbank for Heads Together, a campaign spearheaded by Their Royal Highnesses, aiming to change the conversation on mental health.

The theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day focused on the importance of 'psychological and mental health first aid for all'. At a special reception with representatives and young people and families from the charities that are a part of the Heads Together campaign, their Royal Highnesses heard first-hand about the support that helps and thanked people from across the UK who have provided mental health first aid to someone.

To mark this celebratory day, their Royal Highnesses also took a trip on the London Eye. Jess (23) and her Mum, Caroline, were two of our guests who travelled in The London Eye pod with their Royal Highnesses. Jess first became involved with Anna Freud National Centre when she contributed to the Child in Mind podcast series and is involved with our outreach and participation work. She was formally diagnosed with anorexia five years ago and shared how the illness affected nearly every aspect of life; her whole world narrowed to the illness, and she shut herself away. 


Jess also explained that it was her Mum who has given her the motivation to keep persevering, even when she doesn’t feel able. Jess’ mum encouraged her to ask for help and to do things such as yoga and reading to manage stress. The pair also spoke to camera about their story and it was wonderful to learn that Jess is going into her final year at the University of Exeter medical school from where she will graduate as a doctor next summer.

Jess said: “My mum in particular has been incredible over the last 5 years. She has never given up on me despite the frustration that anorexia can cause, and her patience has given me the motivation to keep persevering with recovery even when I don’t necessarily feel able to.  One of the ways she has helped is that she has spent a lot of time doing various things to try to understand eating disorders so she can work out the best ways to help me, as well as help me think about the best ways I can help myself”.

We also invited a daughter and Mum pair who both attended our Family School and a Young Advisor who volunteers with us to ensure young people’s opinions and voices influence our work as a charity.

The Duchess of Cambridge said:"All of us know someone who has been through difficult emotional times, and we know how hard it can be to see a way forward. William, Harry and I feel it is our duty to do what we can, with your help, to shine a spotlight on emotional wellbeing and highlight the support that is out there to prevent or manage the pain at difficult times”.

In the evening, the London Eye, as well as other buildings and landmarks worldwide and in London, including the National Theatre, Tower of London and the Trafalgar Square lit up purple, connecting Heads Together with the worldwide movement to end stigma around mental health.