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The Royals

How Princess Kate’s ‘Passion’ for Kids’ Mental Health Is Causing ‘Sea Change’

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Princess Kate is sparking a “sea change” in how kids’ mental health is being addressed, a charity leader tells PEOPLE.

The royal mom’s involvement is bringing about a “major shift in attitudes to mental health, with greater understanding that [it] is just as important as our physical health,” says Catherine Roche, the chief executive of one of Kate’s charities, Place2Be.

“We can see how this is becoming an issue that is being publicly discussed — which is a real sea change,” adds Roche. Kate’s “commitment and understanding is making a huge difference to the level of interest that this previously neglected area is now receiving.”

Kate became patron of Place2Be in 2013 and has headed up publicity for their Children’s Mental Health week with video messages and visits since then.

Roche says that Kate “shares our passion and commitment for our cause,” and adds, “It is clear that [she] has a genuine passion for, and truly understands, the importance of providing early intervention mental health support to children and young people, and the positive impact this can have on a child’s personal development.”

Kate and husband Prince William will spearhead the beginning of this year’s Children’s Mental Health Week on Monday, when they visit a school in north west London and champion the theme “Spread a Little Kindness.” “We all know someone whose gone through a tough time, and it can be hard to know what to do to help, especially where children are involved,” Roche adds.

The couple will attend the charity’s Big Assembly, and Kate will present the first-ever Place2Be “Kindness Cup” to a special child who has demonstrated exceptional kindness in his or her school. Roche adds, “We hope as many schools as possible will be able to join us in marking Children’s Mental Health Week and help spread a little kindness across as many schools as possible.”

Place2Be is one of the partners of the royal couple’s Heads Together campaign, spearheaded alongside Prince Harry. Roche senses that it is already “making a huge impact on the drive to tackle stigma and encourage open conversations about mental health.” It has also helped people gain the information, tools and confidence to “support their friends and family who might be going through a tough time.”

The Heads Together campaign will reach a high point at the London Marathon in April, with around 500 people from the partner causes running to raise funds and awareness.