The Duchess of Cambridge visited Mental Health Support charity ‘Shout’ to mark the mental health text service reaching over one million conversations with those in need in London. Shout is one of the UK’s most innovative and pioneering digital mental health support services, making it easier for people in crisis to get help. It is a text messaging service for people in crisis that is free to use, confidential, and available 24/7.
Mental Health is one of the key areas of The Duchess of Cambridge’s public role. In 2016, The Duchess of Cambridge came up with an idea to join all the mental health work she, William, and Harry were doing and that gave us a brilliant umbrella of Heads Together.
Shout UK was launched by The Royal Foundation as a legacy of the Heads Together Campaign, after three years of research and planning with a £3 million investment. It allows people to open up a text chat with a volunteer working remotely, most likely at home, who has been trained to listen, reassure and guide people.
Shout has taken 1 million conversations with 400,000 children, young people, and adults across the UK who are struggling to cope. Conversation numbers increased by 140% during the Covid-19 pandemic and are continuing to rise. Shout Volunteers are often the first person our texters have ever spoken to about how they are feeling, and they work to take someone in distress to a calmer place. The volunteers are supported by clinically-trained supervisors. They need to be over 18, complete 25 hours of online training, and commit to between two and four hours volunteering each week. The conversations remain anonymous until the client wants to give away his information or would like to see qualified psychotherapists.
Prince William, The Duke of Cambridge, himself was one of the volunteers providing support anonymously. Palace confirmed that Duke had been volunteering with SHOUT UK, which offers support via text message to people in personal crisis. Prince William said he had been answering messages after being trained by the mental health charity. During a visit to Devon last September in 2019, the Duke revealed that he plans to train. He said, “I’m aiming to set myself up for it, I really want to do it. Even if I can only do an hour on my laptop. I want to do the training and be able to help“.
Catherine met with the Shout Volunteers, fundraisers, staff, and trustees to thank them for their invaluable efforts to ensure that vital mental health support is available across the UK. The Duchess spoke with three of the dedicated volunteers who shared their experiences of helping those who are anxious, stressed, depressed, suicidal, or overwhelmed and who need immediate support. They also told The Duchess how their roles have had a positive impact on their lives beyond volunteering.
From Shout UK,
“Selena has been a Shout Volunteer since 2019 when The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge launched the service and put out a call for volunteers. Selena told The Duchess that while her GP was great support for her mental health, she realized that many others would be facing struggles alone. So Selena became a Shout Volunteer to “give back and help others who are in a similar place know that help is out there and there’s a light in the darkness.”
The Duchess also spoke to Alexis who became a Shout Volunteer at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and has since taken more than 250 conversations with people struggling to cope. Alexis told The Duchess how his new book, Queer Up (Walker Books), was inspired by his night shifts for Shout where he spoke to young people facing many of the same questions and challenges he did growing up as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. Around 1 in 3 of our texters identify as LGB+.
Finally, The Duchess met Angus, one of Shout’s very first volunteers who has provided more than 1,000 hours of support to people in distress. Having faced his own mental health challenges, Angus became a Shout Volunteer to ensure that others, particularly young people like his daughters, would have someone to talk to. Angus is now pursuing a career in mental health support by training to become a qualified counselor.”
About The Duchess of Cambridge’s visit, Chief Executive, Victoria Hornby OBE, said,
“We would like to thank The Duchess of Cambridge for helping us to celebrate the commitment of our outstanding volunteers, fundraisers, and clinicians who have made it possible for us to provide one million hours of mental health support to people in immediate distress. The support of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and The Royal Foundation has helped hundreds of thousands of people to get the help they need.”
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer you can find more details here.
During the visit, The Duchess also met Leo and Cassie whose incredible fundraising efforts have helped Shout continue to provide free 24/7 support. Leo completed the extraordinary challenge of sleeping outside in his hammock for the whole of 2021, raising £8,000, and is taking on a new cycle challenge to Scotland in the autumn. Cassie took part in a fundraising challenge last summer as a way to give back after texting Shout when she was in crisis.
Next, Catherine spoke with Mark Ungless, Director of Data Insights, and Dr. Jean O’Hara, Trustee, about how data from Shout’s first million conversations can help it better understand the scale of the nation’s mental health needs and experiences.
Before, leaving, The Duchess of Cambridge was given a live demonstration of the Shout platform from Clinical Supervisor, Nisha Lar-Warburton, who supports Shout Volunteers around the clock to help texters when they contact Shout with suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety, relationship problems, loneliness, and more.
A video of the day.
Coming towards The Duchess of Cambridge Style- Catherine was wearing Derek Lam 10 Crosby Sammy leopard-print chiffon midi dress. Thanks to Emily Collins and Caroline Parr for the id.
The £510 that went on sale for £255 was described as, “Derek Lam 10 Crosby ‘Sammy’ dress is the sort of piece that will work equally well for business meetings or dinner dates. Made from lightweight chiffon subtly printed with leopard spots, it draws in slightly at the waist and has a tiered, floaty skirt.”
The Duchess paired the outfit with her Asos twist hoop earrings.
She was wearing Ralph Lauren Collection High Heel Boot in Black Suede.