I’ve debated whether or not to discuss the other articles in the Young Minds Matter series given that this is a Kate Middleton blog not a mental health awareness blog. But I found a way around that by book-ending the post with Kate.
She speaks! The above is a video from Kate’s time as guest editor of the Huffington Post UK. In case you were wondering when the HuffPo people got to KP, they got there and started working at about 6:15 AM according to a man in the video (as we know, Kate didn’t arrive until about 10 AM).
I hate to keep picking on Kate’s speech, but she really needs to speak up and speak clearly. Several of her words got lost because I couldn’t hear her. If I didn’t know better I would have sworn she said: “I just want to say q-tip Stephen and obviously the cute team that’s been involved in this…” Speak up and speak clearly, Kate, I can’t understand you otherwise.
By the way, I love the “You’ve done the hard work, I’m getting all the um…” at the end of the video.
There are a lot of articles for the Young Minds Matter series and I cannot discuss all of them, but if you would like to read all of them go here and just keep scrolling. I read all of the articles and there are a lot of good articles with personal stories and others with facts about children’s mental health and early intervention, there are articles which are mostly promoting various charities which is fine but those articles weren’t my favorite to read, there are some eye-rolly ones and ones that made me angry, and there was one article which was literally an ad for a book.
How does Kate’s article stack up compared to these others? Surprisingly, Kate’s wasn’t my least favorite. It did not touch an emotional cord with me the way some of the others did, it was not as informative as some others, but it wasn’t the worst one, and it wasn’t the one that made me angry. Overall, most of the articles were more about either personal stories or calls to action about supporting child mental health and early intervention, and several were similarly vague as Kate’s (the article from the CEO of Place2Be read more like a defense against some small criticism they got for Children’s Mental Health Week rather than anything informative).
Michelle Obama wrote an article called Let’s Change the Conversation Around Mental Health in which she discusses mental health in relation to military personnel and veterans. She also mentioned five signs of potential mental health changes – personality change, agitation, withdrawal, poor self-care, and hopelessness – and directed readers to a site called changedirection.org.
In this article form Arianna Huffington, she praises Kate but goes on to discuss the importance of sleep.
Here is an article from a woman whose husband committed suicide. She discusses her husband’s struggle and goes on to advocate for early intervention of mental illness. The topic of suicide… so many people are so misinformed. The conversation about suicide that happened following Robin Williams‘ suicide in 2014 made me so angry at how misinformed so many people were.
Demonizing people who commit suicide is only hurting others who are contemplating suicide. When people are at the point of seriously considering suicide, the last thing they need to be thinking about is what an awful person they are for thinking those thoughts – it makes them think even more negatively about themselves than they already are and prevents them from seeking help (lest they be judged even more harshly). Having said that, I am impressed that the author did not go that route and kept it positive and used her husband’s experience to call for early intervention.
This article is about family dynamics and estrangement and I swear it’s like she was talking about me: “I can say with some confidence that the mental health of our children is shaped to some extent by the emotional wellbeing of the adults who care for them day after day.”
This article is a personal story about grief and it really struck a cord with me since my grandparents died when I was about the same ages as the author. This article is another personal story about the bullying the author experienced as a child affecting her adult life. It made me cry.
— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) February 17, 2016
The article which made me angry was this article about a YouGov poll of parents in the UK who “believe children are more prone to problems today than when they were growing up… Two-thirds (66%) say problems such as depression and anxiety are more prevalent and… Four-fifths (81%) of parents blame social media for making their children more vulnerable to mental health problems.”
I just can’t even with this one. First of all, it is not a definitive scientific study with any actual evidence, it is a poll of some parents who signed up to take YouGov polls. Second, it’s a poll of parents, not of kids, so at best it’s hearsay, at worst it’s opinions not based on any sort of experience or fact.
The plain truth is that social media websites by themselves are neutral (as is all technology), it’s the humans who interact with the websites that determine whether they are positive or negative. Without humans, social media sites are just some code on a page connected to an empty database.
If social media is a negative place filled with bullying, racism, sexism, and all other hateful and disgusting things, it’s because humans put it there. Social media is not the problem; humans are the problem. If social media is a negative place due to bullying, then the answer is not “get rid of social media”, the answer is stop humans from bullying one another. If we want to stop our bullying epidemic, then we need to teach people not to bully.
Having got that rant out of my system, I’m going to open up here for a minute. When I was about 7 I started experiencing depression and my personality changed completely – where I had once been an outgoing, dominant personality, I was now an incredibly shy, introverted child; and I ended up getting bullied a lot after that. No one I interacted with noticed. It wasn’t until I was 12, had lost my grandmother to cancer, and moved to a different state, that my mother bothered to notice there was something wrong with me. And the only reason she bothered to think depression might be a cause is because she herself was suffering from depression due to the death of her mother and loss of her job.
When I was diagnosed with depression, I rejected it wholeheartedly. I hated the thought that something was wrong me, and I hated even more the thought that I had to go to a “shrink”. Though the doctor suggested I see a therapist, I refused to even entertain the thought of it. The doctor put me on anti-depression medication, and I refused to take it. I would lie and say I took it when I didn’t. After a while my mother gave up trying to get me help.
In Kate’s video for CMHW, Kate was asked if she would have benefited from something like Place2Be and she said she would have loved to have it, that everyone could benefit from it. But… that’s only if they go. Had something like Place2Be existed in my schools, I would not have gone. At all. Not once. I would not have wanted to go to a “shrink”, to open up, to let anyone know that I had a problem.
The reason we need to eradicate the stigma surrounding mental health is not for the sake of people getting bullied or parents getting their children help, it’s for the sake of the children actually accepting help. Because it does not matter how much mental health care parents or schools shove at their kids, if the kids refuse to accept the mental health care, they won’t receive it and they will suffer. The stigma around mental health is so often about adults, about parents, but children know of the stigma as well. And if that stigma is there, children won’t ask for help, and if they do receive help without asking they won’t accept it.
While having parents and schools take an interest in their children’s mental health and recognizing the signs and offering care is highly important, we need to end the stigma surrounding mental health so that those children, and adults, who do suffer from mental illness are not only willing to seek care but are willing to accept that care.
Now back to Kate. Having said my piece about her article, I want to say something positive. No matter what comes out of this guest editorship – whether it translates long term to a better discussion of mental health, funding for the charities promoted, or Kate devoting herself to a cause – there is one good thing that came out of Kate’s involvement with mental health: we are having a discussion on mental health here on this blog.
Had Kate not gotten involved with this issue, I never would have opened up to you guys, you wouldn’t have responded with your own stories, and we wouldn’t be having the conversations we have now; we wouldn’t be supporting each other the way we are.
Even if nothing else good comes out of Kate’s involvement with mental health, even if the stigma stands, no additional money gets raised, or Kate falls into her toilet at Anmer and is never heard from again, at least we’ve had the conversations we’ve had. And that is a positive thing.
BTW, here’s a video of Harry, The Boot Retriever, during his trip to Lancashire the other week. Just cause.
Prince Harry visits St Michael's and helps a girl who lost her welly pic.twitter.com/Z9iBGQTMbT
— Rock FM News (@RockFMNews) February 5, 2016