Whisper it, but I am beginning to like certain members of the Royal Family, the younger ones anyway. I don’t actively dislike any of them. They were all born into wholly unnatural roles from which they cannot really escape. It’s not proper work as we know it but that’s not their fault either.
Prince Harry had me blubbing a couple of years ago when he helped set up the Invictus Games for injured servicemen and women, his brother William seems a good lad and now Princess Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, whatever that means, has done something utterly brilliant. As patron of the children’s mental health charity Place2be, she has issued a video to emphasise the importance of helping children cope in difficult times. Her and her old man have history with highlighting mental health issues and, even as a Class A cynic about most issues, I think they really mean it; they really do care.
One in five children suffer some form of mental health condition by age 11. I find that statistic utterly amazing, but perhaps I shouldn’t since a still higher number of adults suffer at some stage of their lives. I can bore for England on the subject of mental health so if you’ve had enough of my broken record of mental health issues, look away now.
It was only relatively recently I began to realise that perhaps I was not the only one with severe clinical depression and four types of anxiety. I suppose I was aware that others suffered, it turns out much more than I ever did, but as any mental person will know, your own black dog doesn’t always enable you to think outside the box and think about others. But then you consider that suicide is the biggest killer of men aged under 45 and deafening alarm bells should be ringing. This is an epidemic and it didn’t just start yesterday.
It is easier to discuss my own circumstances than Google the circumstances of others, so I know that my own issues started when I was young. I have managed now to pin down when my own psychotherapy started; I was 12 or 13 when I was overwhelmed by night terrors, shocking anxiety and what I now know was depression. But in my last sessions of therapy, I realised it went back further than that, long before the teenage years. And you know what? By the time I received what was relatively haphazard treatment, the damage was done. There was quite literally nothing to support me, or any of the other children who attended weekly psychiatry and once you were considered ‘cured’, that was it. So from age 14, I was left to it. I was not alone being left alone and it doesn’t seem like very much has changed. And that’s where Kate comes in..
On the face of it, politicians get it, too, with even the prime minister making announcements about increasing mental health care (and forgetting the massive cuts his own government has already made) and to his credit Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has appointed Luciana Berger as his shadow minister for mental health, even though she doesn’t have a minister to shadow. But a royal getting involved, especially a very popular royal, will certainly make a difference to some attitudes. Just look at the difference Princess Diana made in the instances of AIDS and land mines. They may not be all powerful, like politicians and media magnates, but if they have things to say on subjects many people are interested in change can happen.
At heart, I remain an apathetic republican, in principle, but the last thing I want to see is yet another layer of politicians. If the current royals have a greater understanding how the rest of us live our lives and some of the obstacles in our way, they may well be more in touch with us than the politicians.
Keep the good work, Kate.