Prince George's godfather donates £1m towards Covid-19 mental health research

Robert Jobson
Grosvenor Estate/PA

The Duke of Westminster, one of the UK's richest men, has donated £1m towards Oxford University's COVID-19 mental health research programmes.

The grant will be made available through the Westminster Foundation to support the University's Department of Psychiatry, which is at the forefront of mental health research in the UK.

This is part of the £10m donation announced by the Westminster Foundation last month to support the national COVID-19 relief effort.

So far Hugh Grosvenor, who is Prince George's godfather and a friend of the royal family, has pledged £12.5 million to the national Covid-19 relief effort, with millions going direct to the NHS.

The 29-year-old billionaire said the effect of the pandemic on the mental well-being of children is of particular concern to him.

He said, “Mental health can affect anyone, anywhere. This crisis presents new and difficult challenges to so many people; whether that's clinicians and key workers on the front line, grieving families, children struggling to understand social isolation, or anyone already suffering from anxiety or other mental health issues.

“While the impact of this crisis is being felt immediately, the longer-term mental health impact of COVID-19 could potentially be devastating if not addressed. I am really interested in Oxford University's innovative mental health programmes, particularly the impact of the pandemic on youth mental health. These projects are vital pieces of work and will benefit us all as the effects of the virus become more apparent.”

John Geddes, Professor of Epidemiological Psychiatry, Head of the Department of Psychiatry and Director of the NIHR Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre commented: “We are enormously grateful for this generous gift which will enable us to scale up our research projects, especially into how COVID19 is affecting young people's mental health. I'm delighted how quickly and expertly our researchers have responded to this global threat. The pace of development means that funding them has been a challenge, and this donation is critically important.”

Oxford University's COVID-19 mental health research programmes include studies in the following areas: The effect of COVID-19 on brain health; communicating parental illness and death to children; tracking young people's mental health during the pandemic; helping clinicians cope with the moral dilemmas and “moral injury”; and using digital health to improve mental health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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