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Royal support for campaign to promote mental health in schools

HRH The Duchess of Cambridge is today launching You’re never too young to talk mental health, the new campaign by the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families.

The campaign kicks off with an animation co-produced by children and teachers and includes an introduction from HRH The Duchess of Cambridge, who is Patron of the charity. The animation is accompanied by free teaching materials designed to help children learn the life-long skills to help them talk about ‘big’ and ‘small’ feelings, and how to listen to their friends when they need to talk. 

A leaflet to help parents and carers start conversations with their children about mental health is also published today and features an introduction from HRH The Duchess of Cambridge.

Every primary school in the England will receive a downloadable teaching resource pack this week including assembly and lesson plans to enable them to use the animation in school for World Mental Health Day.

By learning how to talk about their problems when they need to, children can prevent them from escalating. The initiative comes at a time of increasing concern around child mental health when:

  • Half of all life-time mental health problems start by the age of 14[i];
  • 1 in 10 children (aged 5-16 years) have a clinically diagnosable mental health problem, some of which can cause difficulties with academic achievement, attendance and social integration[ii];
  • 20% of adolescents may experience a mental health problem in any given year[iii];
  • Approximately 200,000 young people aged 10-17 are referred to specialist mental health services each year in England[iv].

HRH The Duchess of Cambridge said:

“As parents, we all want our children to have the best possible start in life. Encouraging children to understand and be open about their feelings can give them the skills to cope with the ups and downs that life will throw at them as they grow up.

“It’s important that our children understand that emotions are normal, and that they have the confidence to ask for help if they are struggling. This is why I am proud to support the You’re never too young to talk mental health campaign by the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, which is being rolled out across primary schools this autumn.

“The campaign’s resources are excellent tools to support parents. They demonstrate how we can help children express their feelings, respond appropriately, and prevent small problems from snowballing into bigger ones.”

Professor Peter Fonagy, Chief Executive of AFNCFC said:

“One of the most effective things we can do is to give children the language they need to discuss mental health and encourage them to have open conversations at home and at school. Helping children identify problems that they or their friends are having is the first step towards resolving those problems. And if we can help children who are struggling with their feelings or experiences, they will be happier and perform better at school.

“We have identified 9-11 year olds because they are at a crucial point in their lives when they are preparing for transition to secondary school and on the cusp of adolescence. With the backing of schools and parents together we can help them manage these and other challenges they face with greater confidence and prevent any problems from escalating.”

[i] Kessler C., Berglund P., Demler O., Jin R., Merikangas R., Walters E. (2005) ‘Lifetime Prevalence and Age-of-Onset Distributions of DSM-IV Disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication’, Archives of General Psychiatry, 62 (6) pp. 593-602.

[ii] Green,H., Mcginnity, A., Meltzer, Ford, T., Goodman,R. (2005) Mental Health of Children and Young People in Great Britain: 2004. London: Office for National Statistics.

[iii] World Health Organisation (2003) Caring for children and adolescents with mental disorders: Setting WHO directions. Geneva: World Health Organization. Available at:

[iv] Abdinasir, K. and Pona, I. (2015) Access Denied: A teenager’s pathway through the mental health system. London: The Children's Society.