William and Kate hail ‘positive conversation’ about mental health during visit

The Prince and Princess of Wales welcomed a “positive conversation” about mental health as they visited a charity in Merseyside.

William and Kate met staff, volunteers and young people at the Open Door charity’s Bloom Building in Birkenhead, Wirral.

Hearing about the work the organisation does to combine creative areas such as art and music with mental health support for young people, Kate said: “While everyone is talking about mental health a lot more now, often it has a negative association.

“This is really exciting because it makes it a positive conversation around mental health, something that normalises it so it changes the way we talk about it.”

The Prince and Princess of Wales listen to members of staff at the Open Door mental health charity
The Prince and Princess of Wales listen to members of staff in the ‘Cloud Room’ during a visit to the Open Door mental health charity (Jon Super/PA)

They met young people in care, aged between 11 and 18, who had used the charity’s Oomoo programme to create an album of music.

One of the young people, Reece, said: “They were really down to earth. I thought it was going to be stressful but with Will and Kate it felt like I was being heard.”

Speaking to mentors at the charity, William said the youngsters were “very articulate”.

He said: “It’s not easy at that age, even as adults we don’t understand what’s going on.

William and Kate listen to young adults during a visit to the Open Door mental health charity
William and Kate listen to young adults during a visit to the Open Door mental health charity (Jon Super/PA)

“When they’re young, being able to lay out what they’re going through and what they’re feeling. It’s very impressive.”

He asked mentors how they overcame people’s worries for a “future career” if they went down the “medical route” in tackling their mental health.

The couple heard about plans for the charity to open a centre in Birkenhead with a range of services under one roof.

Director Lee Pennington, who set up the charity 11 years ago, shared ideas of having a nightclub in the basement of a building and midwifery services on the first floor, saying the club for new mothers could be called Pramnesia.

Kate listens to staff during a visit to the Open Door mental health charity
Kate listens to staff during a visit to the Open Door mental health charity (Jon Super/PA)

Kate replied: “Brilliant.”

William said he had not come across anywhere else in the country providing a similar service.

The charity’s head of development, Ella Holland, said: “The visit has been incredible.

“They were more passionate about it than I thought they would be with their knowledge of the sector and knowledge of what needs to be done.

“I think, for us, them coming here this week just proves how much they care about the country and making change.”