Kate Middleton and Prince William Announce New Mental Health Program for Frontline Workers
"This work will be our top priority for the months ahead," the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge said
Throughout the crisis, the royal parents have been talking to emergency service staffers, hospitals and visited an emergency call center. Now, they are supporting a new resource for those tackling the virus head-on in communities across the U.K.
“Our Frontline” will provide one-to-one support and online help to assist frontline workers in getting the mental health relief that they need as they tackle difficult and often-harrowing cases.
“The Duke and Duchess have been hearing from representatives of mental health organizations and talking with frontline workers and hospital staff about what they need and are committed to do what they can to support the mental health charities,” a royal source tells PEOPLE. “Both of them have been instrumental in convening the sector and helping bring partners together.”
The Royal Foundation, which William heads along with wife Kate Middleton, is leading the support for the mental health charity Mind, the crisis text service Shout, Samaritans and Hospice U.K., as they kick-off the new service. On Wednesday, William, 37, will chair a video call roundtable discussion with emergency service workers and leaders in the mental health community.
On the call with former air ambulance pilot William, 37, will also be members of charities helping the blue light workers (such as ambulance and police officers), doctors and health staff.
“Over the past few weeks, millions of frontline workers across the U.K. have put their physical and mental health on the line to protect us all during the coronavirus pandemic,” William said in a statement ahead of the meeting. “Every day they confront traumatic situations at the same time as having to contend with their own worries about the risks to themselves and their families.”
“That takes a real toll, and as I’ve seen for myself through my work with the Air Ambulance, without the right support at the right time the challenges they face will only be greater. Catherine and I, together with The Royal Foundation, will do all we can to support Our Frontline. This work will be our top priority for the months ahead,” he continued.
To use the service, health staff and key workers can call or text a trained volunteer and access specially developed online resources, toolkits and advice to support their mental health and emotional wellbeing through this challenging time.
Paul Farmer, CEO of Mindsaid, “Every day, those working in health and social care, 999 services and other vital roles – staff working in supermarkets, pharmacies, transport, catering and cleaning to name a few – face huge challenges to their physical and mental health. That’s why it’s so important they can easily access information and contact trained advisors to help promote good mental health, any time of day or night.”
Former nurse and CEO of Samaritans, Ruth Sutherland, added, “Our trained volunteers are a listening ear for anyone, especially those who are putting their mental health under immense short and long-term pressure to provide our frontline against coronavirus.”
Victoria Hornby, CEO of Mental Health Innovations, which runs Shout, added in a statement, “By combining our services, we can provide a single place for our frontline to go for support if they are feeling overwhelmed, stressed or struggling to manage their mental health for another reason, such as the loss of a colleague or loved one. Shout Crisis Volunteers are incredibly proud to be able to listen to and talk to key workers through a confidential text conversation, whenever and wherever they need our support.”
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CEO of Hospice UK, Tracey Bleakley said, “Our Dying Matters campaign has many resources to help people deal with grief and death, and we’re putting all we know into Our Frontline so that nobody doing an essential job feels that they have to go through this alone.”
The Royal Foundation has a long history of raising awareness of the importance of mental health and one of its key initiative – Heads Together – is considered one of the most successful campaigns of its type ever in the U.K.