PRINCE William and Kate today launch a mental health support network for NHS staff and key workers — and call it their “top priority”.
The couple’s Royal Foundation has teamed up with charities Mind, Samaritans, Shout and Hospice UK to create the “Our Frontline” scheme.
The initiative aims to give round-the-clock mental health support to key workers struggling to cope amid the coronavirus crisis.
It is understood former air ambulance pilot William, 37, got to work on the idea after speaking to NHS workers and charities as the pandemic unfolded.
The Duke of Cambridge — whose grandmother the Queen turned 94 yesterday — paid tribute to key staff as he launched Our Frontline.
He said: “Over the past few weeks, millions of frontline workers across the UK have put their physical and mental health on the line to protect us all during the coronavirus pandemic.
“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.
‘EVER-INCREASING’ NEED FOR SUPPORT
“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.”
The scheme allows stressed workers to call or text trained volunteers, get online support and mental health advice.
William, 38 and Kate, 39, have spent much of the lockdown speaking to NHS hospital staff, 101 call-centre handlers and charities about the impact of the virus.
Last week, they warned of an “ever-increasing” need for mental health support amid the Covid-19 outbreak.
They also revealed their worries for Prince Charles’s mental wellbeing after he was recently forced into isolation with coronavirus.
Speaking about his father, William said: “I was a little bit worried, but he was very lucky he had mild symptoms.
“I think the hardest thing he found was having to stop and not be able to go and get a bit of fresh air and go for a walk.
“He’s a mad walker. He loves his walking.
“So I think he found it quite difficult, especially, I think, with his mental health.”
The couple also described the lockdown for millions as “frustrating” — but said help was needed for NHS staff who had to absorb pain and loneliness as the death toll rose.
William, who has told pals he would like to return to work with the air ambulance, will tomorrow chair a roundtable call with representatives from the emergency services and the NHS to discuss how Our Frontline can support staff.
Paul Farmer, CEO of Mind, said the scheme was vital to fight the huge daily challenges for health and social care staff as well as those “working in supermarkets, pharmacies, transport, catering and cleaning, to name a few”.
Ruth Sutherland, Samaritans CEO, added: “As a former NHS nurse myself, I am so proud that we are able to work with some of the UK’s leading organisations to support our key workers and their mental health.”
Victoria Hornby, CEO of Mental Health Innovations, which runs Shout, said: “We can provide a single place for our frontline staff 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.”
- NHS workers, frontline staff and other key workers can log onto www.ourfrontline.org or visit @OurFrontlineUK on social media.