This past week, while everything happened with Crown Princess Victoria giving birth to her son, Prince Oscar, two more engagements were announced for Prince William and Kate Middleton, and one more for Prince Harry. I’m thinking Oscar’s first photos will not be released until Monday, so this is just a really quick update post for the Cambridges and Harry’s schedules (which ended up being longer and more rant-y than I expected; sorry).
William and Kate at the 2015 Commonwealth Day Service
On Monday, March 14, William, Kate, and Harry will join the Queen and Prince Philip for the Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey.
We already knew about William and Kate’s planned XLP visit on March 11, but they will now have an engagement on Thursday, March 10, as well. William and Kate “will carry out a series of public and private engagements focusing on efforts to prevent suicide and to support those bereaved by suicide” including meeting with Jonny Benjamin who tried to commit suicide in 2008 but was saved by a stranger and is now an activist for mental health.
More from Majesty magazine Facebook:
“The Duke and Duchess and Prince Harry are making mental health a major focus of their work in the year ahead. The Duke of Cambridge is particularly keen to better understand the difficult issues around suicide, bullying, and the mental health of young men. These are issues he has been exposed to both in his official work with homelessness charities and in his work as an air ambulance pilot.
“The public engagements on 10th March will focus on the inspiring story of Jonny Benjamin. Jonny’s life was saved by a stranger in 2008 as he contemplated taking his own life. After receiving help, Jonny launched a social media campaign called #FindMike six years later, together with the charity Rethink Mental Illness, to find the man who saved him in order to offer his thanks. The campaign succeeded and Jonny was reunited with not a Mike, but Neil Laybourn.
“Jonny believes that if he had received help for his mental health challenges earlier in life he would not have reached his crisis point. He has gone on to work together to promote mental health awareness in schools through the Thinkwell workshop. His aim is to break the stigma associated with mental health and put mental health education on the national curriculum.
“On 10th March, the Duke and Duchess will meet Jonny and Neil at St Thomas’ Hospital in London where Jonny was sectioned immediately after his near suicide. They will then travel to Kensington Palace where they will drop in on a screening of a documentary about Jonny’s experience and the #FindMike campaign. Jonny regularly attends screenings with young people as a way to encourage open discussion of mental health issues.
“Around 20 young people from a South London school will be invited to watch the screening at Kensington Palace and then take part in a discussion, led by Jonny, Neil and Rethink Mental Illness. The children taking part in the session are from a school where Jonny has previously delivered his ThinkWell project.
“Following, this session, Their Royal Highnesses will join a private discussion with a group who have been bereaved in various ways by suicide to discuss their experiences and the support they have received since.
“The rest of the day’s programme will be private.”
I’ve spoken briefly before about my thoughts on the conversation around suicide, and we’ve discussed in the comments how the words used to discuss mental illness in general need to be very precise, so I’ll be interested in how this event is discussed, what William and Kate say, and what Jonny Benjamin says. Until then, I’ll reserve judgement on this event.
But I do want to bring up something that has been bothering me for a few weeks now. I’m just going to write out my thoughts to get them out so I don’t go into this March 10th visit negatively (so feel free to skip the following if you want, it’s just me rambling).
Something that is bothering me more and more about William and Kate’s association with mental health awareness (which is not a criticism of them at all, just to be clear), is that the more “mental health” is discussed the less I understand what exactly is the goal of the discussion.
What does “mental health issues” mean – there are many mental illnesses, they are varied, and the treatment for them is varied, so what exactly are we talking about (I bring up depression because that’s what I have experience with, but I don’t know if that’s what they’re talking about, so maybe my thoughts on “mental health” are not applicable to this discussion)? What does “break/end the stigma” mean – how exactly is this being accomplished? What is being accomplished by this discussion as a whole – is there a way to measure society’s views on mental health, is this discussion changing society’s views on mental health at large, are there individuals seeking help now who weren’t before this discussion, are there individuals offering help to loved ones who weren’t before this discussion, is there really any way to measure the accomplishments of this discussion or is it something vague and not wholly defined that people still don’t fully grasp? Is the stigma around mental health and illness still there because this conversation is so vague and ill-defined?
It’s not that I think mental health isn’t an important issue (because I do), or that I think sharing our experiences doesn’t help (because it does – seriously, you guys have helped me a lot), it’s just that aside from the sharing of our experiences here on this blog the entire conversation around mental health, which has been spurred by William and Kate’s involvement, seems to be very vague.
Since I honestly do not know anyone in the real world who follows the royals, I’m wondering how much of an impact this discussion is having. How many people who don’t already follow the royals are really being reached? Take out the royal involvement: how many people who weren’t already looking for information on mental health and mental illness actually read the Young Minds Matter series on HuffPo UK? This conversation is so vague and buzzword-y that I’m wondering how much of an impact is it really having, what changes is it causing? Am I just not paying enough attention or looking hard enough to find the changes? I don’t know.
No one needs to answer these questions. I wanted to bring this up now, and express my confusion and concerns now, so that these questions don’t negatively color the March 10th visit. I want to express my slight negativity toward the mental health cause now so that I can look at the March 10th visit neutrally. So please don’t yell at me for being negative about this right now. This is not a criticism of William and Kate, it’s just me expressing some thoughts on the mental health conversation as a whole which I don’t want to take into my coverage of this upcoming visit.