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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visit HeadStart project in Mental Health Awareness Week

To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge today visited The Way Youth Zone project in Wolverhampton, which supports children and young people with their mental health and wellbeing and is part of the HeadStart programme which the Anna Freud Centre is evaluating.

Mental Health Awareness Week is the UK’s national week to raise awareness of mental health, hosted annually by the Mental Health Foundation. This year’s theme is centred around nature and the important role it can play to help improve mental wellbeing, as well as its power to prevent or aid recovery from poor mental health.

The Way allows young people the opportunity to participate in positive and constructive activities and provides them with somewhere to go and someone to talk to. The Duke and Duchess joined a group of young people who use The Way’s services as they took part a number of wellbeing sessions and met a group of HeadStart ambassadors.

Established by The National Lottery Community Fund, HeadStart is a programme designed to improve the resilience and emotional wellbeing of children and young people by giving them the skills they need to address the challenges of modern life. As part of the programme, The Anna Freud Centre, a Heads Together charity partner of which The Duchess is Patron, and University College London are evaluating evidence about new ways to improve the mental health and wellbeing of young people and to prevent serious mental health issues from developing. It includes survey responses from 65,000 children and young people – including many young people from Wolverhampton, such as those accessing HeadStart support at The Way – about their mental health and the strengths, skills and social connections that support their wellbeing.

Professor Jessica Deighton, Director of the Applied Research and Evaluation Division at the Anna Freud Centre said: “We’re delighted that The Duke, and Duchess of Cambridge, who is our Patron, visited Wolverhampton today. HeadStart is such an important project and puts young people at the heart of exploring effective support for mental health.

“The learning that we will gain from HeadStart has the potential to help us understand more about the best ways to support young people’s mental health. Our data is incredibly rich, and draws on the views of around 65,000 young people as well as their experiences of taking part in HeadStart.”

HeadStart is a six-year, £67.4 million National Lottery funded programme set up by The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK. It aims to explore and test new ways to improve the mental health and wellbeing of young people aged 10 to 16 and prevent serious mental health issues from developing.