Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan shine a light on the work Kiwis are doing in the area of mental health

The royal couple showed a keen interest in the work New Zealanders are doing in the area of mental health.

Raising awareness about mental health issues is close to the hearts of Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, and this morning they paid homage to this by speaking with young Kiwis at the heart of mental health work in New Zealand.

At Maranui Café in Wellington the royal pair met with young people from a number of organisations dedicated to advocating for and supporting those who struggle with mental health in New Zealand.

“It’s a real topic that needs to be discussed,” Prince Harry said to Ezekiel Raui from Key to Life, a mental health support network.

“There’s no silver bullet and I think people need to understand that,” Prince Harry continued. “I take my hat off to you guys.”

Ezekiel Raui, who actually met the royal couple earlier this year at Buckingham Palace when he was awarded a Queen’s Young Leaders Award, spoke with the royal couple about the importance of inter-generational change and said it was a dream that the role of Key to Life Trust may one day become redundant.

In 2016, alongside Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry launched Heads Together, an initiative to advocate for and raise awareness about mental health issues.

Ever the tactile couple Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan have each other’s back as they stop to chat with fans while walking to Maranui Café in Wellington.

Prince William said at the time, “Mental health is not a dirty word and we all have mental health like we do physical health, good or ill. But not seeking help at those times when it all seems too much, or we are depressed or anxious, can impact the rest of our lives. Put simply, the three of us want to make asking for help no longer a big deal… The more we all talk about this, the more collectively as a society we can do to support one another.”

Duchess Meghan joined the initiative before she married Prince Harry and the four have each focused on a particular area to champion – Prince Harry’s is military mental health (notably the Invictus Games). Prince William’s is men’s mental health and Duchess Catherine’s is mother’s and children’s. Duchess Meghan has shown a special interest in women’s empowerment.

During this morning’s meeting at Wellington’s Maranui Café Prince Harry was interested to know how much of a part social media played in the number of young people experiencing symptoms.

Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan hold hands as they walk along Lyall Bay to visit Maranui Café in Wellington.

Duchess Meghan wore a 1737 lapel badge promoting the work of the helpline.

“You’re all doing really excellent work,” she said to the group, starting a round of applause.

Prince Harry said, “Everyone needs someone to turn to right?”

During the visit Meghan ordered a cup of tea while Prince Harry stuck to drinking water.

The prince placed his hand affectionately on his wife’s shoulder as the couple made their final farewells and left.

To stay up to date on Meghan and Harry’s four-day tour of New Zealand, click here.

These are the services that Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan met with representatives from:

• Lifeline Aotearoa has been helping New Zealanders in crisis for over 50 years. It offers free community helplines (Lifeline 24/7, Suicide Crisis Helpline, and Kidsline) as well as a text support service (HELP).

• Live for Tomorrow is the youth mental health project by New Zealand youth organisation Zeal. It tells real-life stories on young people, both online and in school, through documentaries, music videos and other resources.

• Luminary Legacies was founded in 2017 by 19-year old student Lucia Kennedy. Her project honours people who have impacted positively on individuals, families, communities, and society. Her work also focuses on how happiness has not grown, despite technological advances and improved quality of life.

• Pacific Youth Leadership and Transformation Council encourages young Pasifika to take part in democracy. Melissa Lama is a board trustee member whose focus is on mental health for Pacific youth, and young mothers who experience post-natal depression.

• Te Kotahi is a peer-support programme led by young people. It was founded by Ezekiel Raui, who was inspired to lead in this area following a cluster of youth suicides at his high school.

• The National Telehealth Service (NTS) was established in late 2015 was designed to integrate all the main government health and mental health helplines. NTS offers a range of 24-hour free health and mental health advice, support and information services. Over the past 12 months, the mental health team supported 69,431 Kiwis.

• Voices of Hope was founded by Jazz Thornton and Gen Mora, in response to their personal experiences of mental illness. Their website contains videos and blogs on a range of mental health issues and promotes mental well-being, empowerment and recovery.

When life gives you lemons

When life gives you lemons was written by Celia Painter and Abbie Krieble, following their experiences of depression as teens. Celia hand-drew the pages, while Abbie wrote the text. Their book is a resource for other young people with experience of mental illness.

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