Since taking on her new title as Princess of Wales, Kate Middleton has made sure one thing has remained at the top of her priority list – the mental health of younger generations in the UK.
The Princess, who often spoke out about mental health and wellbeing when she was Duchess of Cambridge, has today written about the importance of nurturing and understanding early years as part of her campaign to improve the wellbeing of young people.
Since assuming her new title following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, many of the Princess’s public engagements have been centred around mental wellbeing of children, young people and adults, from leading a news broadcast about teenage mental health on BBC Radio 1 to a visit to a neonatal unit in Surrey which looks after new mothers.
Writing in The Telegraph this morning, mother-of-three Kate wrote about the importance of the early years of a child’s life from pregnancy to the age of five in shaping their wellbeing throughout their life, as the brain rapidly develops. She called on parents and professionals to recognise the ‘unique potential of early childhood’ in creating a safe, loving and nurturing environment for every child.
The Princess of Wales (pictured speaking to a little girl at the unveiling of a Windrush generation statue in June 2022) has written an article stressing the importance of a focus on early years development
The Princess of Wales cited issues like homelessness, poor mental health and addiction, noting that the first five years of a child’s life are key in shaping how they fare as adults. She called for an increased focus on these early years in order to tackle such issues effectively.
She concluded: ‘I am determined to continue to shine a light on this issue and to do everything I can to secure much greater focus on those first crucial few years for the youngest members of our society – they are, after all, our future.’
Kate’s opinion piece reflects several years of work in early years, maternal and teenage mental health as she continues her crusade to improve the wellbeing of the nation.
Kate, 40, (pictured on a nursery visit in Edinburgh in 2021) has long championed early years development and the importance of focusing on how children are nurtured during the first five years of their lives
The mother-of-three has a clear affinity with children, often stopping to meet and speak to them during public engagements. Pictured this month speaking to a little boy in Hillingdon, west London
Last month, the Princess of Wales teamed up with her husband to lead a BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat broadcast in which teenagers and young people were invited to speak about their mental health struggles and how they had sought help
Last year, Kate launched The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood, established to increase focus on the first years of a child’s life in impacting later life.
According to its website, the centre focuses on three main areas: research into the significance of early years, collaboration with public, private and voluntary sectors to share knowledge; and campaigning to raise awareness of the issue.
Last month, the Princess teamed up with her husband, Prince William, to lead a BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat broadcast with teenagers and young people who had struggled with their mental health, in the hope of encouraging others to open up and seek help when they need it.
During the broadcast, Kate said there was ‘no right or wrong’ way to look after one’s own mental health, as different people will find different solutions work best for them.
She said: ‘The first step for all of us is to keep having those conversations and keep reaching out for help.’
This summer, the Princess was also hard at work promoting her cause, after she teamed up with the Maternal Mental Health Alliance to record a video message after she was announced its patron.
The MMHA is a UK-wide charity and network of more than 100 organisations, working to ensure women and families affected by perinatal mental problems have access to high-quality comprehensive care and support.
In the video message, she said: ‘We all know that pregnancy, childbirth and the first months and years of a child’s life can be hugely demanding. Parents often feel lonely and overwhelmed by these early years.
‘Around 20 per cent of women in the UK are reported to experience perinatal mental illness.
‘Sadly, we also know that many more are suffering in silence. No one is immune to experiencing anxiety and depression during this time.’
She added: ‘There is plenty more to be done. And it’s down to each and every one of us to support parents and carers, and all those who are raising children today.
‘Because by ensuring that the next generation of children can thrive, we can help to build a stronger, healthier and more nurturing society which benefits us all.’