Joanne Sibley, a student from Livability’s Victoria Education Centre in Poole, Dorset, was invited to meet the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at a special event to mark World Mental Health Day.
Organised as a ‘Heads Together’ charity coalition event at County Hall and the Coca-Cola London Eye on the South Bank, the event took place on Monday 10 October.
This year’s theme for World Mental Health Day focuses on the importance of “psychological and mental health first aid for all”. At a special reception, 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.
Joanne attends Livability’s Victoria Education Centre – a day school in Poole, Dorset offering specialised, high quality care, mental health support and therapy for young disabled people from 3-19 years old.
Joanne has been at VEC for 6 years, joining in September 2010 and is passionate about raising awareness for mental health amongst young people. She was thrilled to receive this invite to the day.
[blockquote cite=”Joanne Sibley” type=”left”]”Mental Health affects 1 in 4 people – it is so important that I attend this day and raise awareness. It has been a real honour to meet the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.”[/blockquote]
Headteacher of the School, Simon Brown said:
“You only have to look at the statistics surrounding mental health to know that it is vital that we raise awareness for mental health amongst young people. At Victoria, we are proud to invest a great deal of work and support to ensure our students’ have good support and care in mental health. In addition – Livability – the national charity of which we’re a part, is doing a lot to raise awareness for mental health. I am delighted that Joanna has been part of this important day.”
Their Royal Highnesses met with Joanne and a wide range of young guests at an upbeat reception with the charities that are a part of the Heads Together campaign.
They met with people who have received help from a relative, colleague or friend in crucial moments in their lives and the person who provided that support. This was an opportunity for the Duke, Duchess and Prince Harry to learn more about the kind of support that makes all the difference and what information is available for people who might find themselves in a situation where they need to help someone or direct them to professional services.
The Duke of Cambridge said:
“Catherine, Harry and I are incredibly proud to be working with you all to tackle one of the greatest challenges facing our society. Mental health is not a dirty word – we all have mental health like we do physical health, good or ill. But not seeking help at those times when it all seems too much, or we are depressed or anxious, can impact the rest of our lives.
“On the Heads Together journey so far we have seen the difference that a listening ear can make to people’s lives – whether a father supporting a child suffering depression, a soldier who has returned from a testing deployment, or a child struggling with the pressures of a new school.
“The three of us have learnt a lot in the past few months as we have met people. The conclusion we are coming to is that the more we all talk about this, the more collectively as a society we can do to support one another.
“The theme of World Mental Health Day this year matches this. It is ‘mental health first aid for all’. To us, mental health first aid means getting in there early to support people, before what they’re going through becomes more serious or even clinical.”
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.
“The three of us are coming to the realisation that more needs to be done to support people who are seeking help. Over the coming months, we hope to explore what else we can do to increase the level of service and support that people can receive. But first, as William said, we must tackle the stigma that stops people asking for help in the first place. We want to encourage people to talk to one another.”
Prince Harry said:
“William, Catherine and I want everyone to know how to give exactly the vital mental health support that you have talked about. It’s not rocket science, but most of us don’t know what to do if a friend or family member is suffering. Having some basic knowledge, and having the confidence to act on your knowledge, can make a huge difference to those around us – as Rich was for Dan.
“We will all experience pressure on our mental health at some point during our lives. The more we accept that, the better we can help each other. Catching it and recognising it early, saves lives. So, it’s time we ended the shame around mental health – the fear of judgment that stops people talking or getting help.
“All of us have mental health. So the more we all get behind this topic, the more we can help not just the individuals suffering, but also their entire families and work colleagues as well. Together we will break the stigma forever and save lives.”
Following the reception, The Duke and Duchess and Prince Harry continued the celebrations by taking a ride on the Coca-Cola London Eye with some of the people who have been kind enough to share their mental health first aid experiences.
The Heads Together event is being sponsored by Merlin Entertainments, who run the Coca-Cola London Eye and have also provided a great deal of support to Victoria Education Centre in recent years via their children’s charity “Merlin’s Magic Wand“.
Following the opening of a new state of the art hydrotherapy sensory pool at VEC, Merlin’s Magic Wand came in and not only transformed the changing rooms but also the corridor leading to the pool. They gave them a complete under the sea makeover bringing a touch of magic to our student’s swimming experience.
Sandra Hazel, Head of Merlin’s Magic Wand Children’s Charity said:
“We are really committed to empowering young people to take part and flourish, so our involvement in transforming the changing rooms by the hydrotherapy sensory pool at Victoria Education Centre was a real priority for us. We are so pleased that one of their students has been able to be part of this important opportunity to mark World Mental Health Day.”
The Coca-Cola London Eye will light up in purple in support of World Mental Health Day, joining other buildings around the world that will be doing the same and connecting Heads Together with the worldwide movement to end stigma around mental health.
[content_band style=”color: #000000″ bg_color=”#e5e5e5″ border=”all” inner_container=”true”][custom_headline style=”margin-top: 0;” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h3″]Want to find out more?[/custom_headline]Visit our mental health section for more information about our work in mental health and the church.
Visit Victoria Education Centre website for more information about Livability’s school.
Visit the “LightUpPurple” campaign website, set up in memory of Canadian teenager Amanda Todd.
Visit the Merlin’s Magic Wand website for more information about the children’s chairty.[/content_band]