Prince William says young people are not getting the help they need on mental health issues as technology brings challenges not faced by previous generations.
William, 36, a long-time campaigner on mental health awareness, said we must do more as a society to “work together to bring children up to be as resilient as possible”.
In a landmark youth edition of the Daily Mirror, a group of teenagers formed the Next Generation team to interview the Duke of Cambridge, asking his views on the pressures faced by youngsters.
In an online conversation with our young team, William said he was excited about the future, and the way technology opens up the world by allowing youngsters to interact with anyone, anywhere, at any time.
But he warned there should be more protection for vulnerable youngsters online.
His warning comes as an exclusive Mirror poll reveals seven in 10 teenagers say bullying on social media is a common feature of life.
Welcome to MirrorNextGen: a ground-breaking project by the Mirror to put the things British teenagers care about at the heart of the national conversation.
For one day only, we are handing over control of the Mirror to a team of teenage editors. They are taking charge of our coverage in both print and online - giving them the chance to tell us about the issues which matter to them.
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William said: “The future is incredibly exciting, and you have the ability to learn and connect with other people in ways no one has ever done before.
“But of course this technology has its downsides and I hope that together we do all that we can to protect vulnerable individuals from them.”
William launched new mental health charity Shout with wife Kate and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex earlier this month.
Shout is the UK’s first free 24/7 text service for “anyone in crisis, any time, anywhere”.
The anonymous service helps people experiencing a “tough moment” by connecting them with trained volunteers.
Some 60,000 conversations took place during a 12-month pilot last year and 1,000 volunteers signed up to the initiative run by the charity Mental Health Innovations.
The service is predominantly used by young people aged 14 to 24 suffering with issues such as depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicidal thoughts.
As a parent of three young children – George, five, Charlotte, four, and one-year-old Louis – William revealed his fears for young people after hearing they do not feel they are not getting enough support and encouragement to speak about their mental health.
He said the main lesson he learned working in the field and with young people is that “the first conversation is always the hardest, but the most impactful”.
He added: “For years we’ve heard that talking about mental health is a sign of weakness, when actually it shows incredible strength. It’s possibly the most important thing you can ever do.”
To highlight the ease of using the Shout service, he spoke to the Mirror youth team yesterday by text message.
He said: “Since we started our campaign more young people than ever are prepared to talk about their mental health, which is amazing.
“But sadly, more young people are also saying they’re not getting the help they need.
“As well as being able to talk, more of us need to be able to listen.”
He added: “That’s why services like Shout are so important.
“We also need to ensure that all of us work together to bring up children to be as resilient as possible.
“Ensuring that every child gets the best start in life is key to that – something that Catherine is hugely passionate about, and has been working on for years.”
William has in the past spoken candidly about the death of his mother Princess Diana, and the way the tragedy affected him.
He said his bereavement was “pain like no other pain”, and it has inspired him to help others to be able to talk about their problems.
He said it was Kate who first noticed that mental health was the common thread connecting the charities supported by the couple and Prince Harry , 34.
So in April 2017 the three of them launched Heads Together to campaign to tackle the stigma and change the conversation on mental health.
William said: “It was actually Catherine that connected the dots.
“Harry, Catherine and I were all working on issues such as homelessness, veterans and addiction – and Catherine pointed out that so much was connected by poor mental health.
“So we wanted to see what we could do, and Heads Together was born.”
William, Kate, Harry and wife Meghan, 37, are now continuing its work with Shout, to “take people from crisis to calm, every day” and to help improve people’s lives.
Over the past year Kate, 37, has been championing the importance of early intervention to provide the necessary confidence and platforms for children to be more resilient later in life, to avoid serious problems that often emerge only in adolescence or in adult years.
On Monday she launched her Back To Nature garden at the Chelsea Flower Show, inspired by her childhood memories.
She also spoke about the importance of spending time outdoors for mental wellbeing.