We were delighted to join an important discussion about mental health with Their Royal Highnesses The Prince and Princess of Wales for a special episode of BBC Radio 1’s Newsbeat on World Mental Health Day.
Shout Volunteer Ben Cowley was among four campaigners and experts in the field of mental health who met Their Royal Highnesses to discuss a number of challenges and opportunities young people face when it comes to their mental wellbeing, including changing the stigma, the pressures of social media and ways to equip young people with the tools to open up about how they’re feeling.
Ben is a registered Music Therapist and Assistant Mental Health Advisor for the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. He has completed 200 hours of volunteering for Shout over more than two years. He was awarded an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List earlier this year for services to health and social care during the Covid-19 pandemic.
69% of the people who have texted the Shout text message support service this year are under 25, and the main issues people contact the service about are suicide/suicidal thoughts, depression/sadness, anxiety, relationships, loneliness, self-harm, grief and eating disorders/body image.
The Prince and Princess of Wales also met Dr Abigail Miranda, an Educational and Child Psychologist working in early years; António Ferreria, a mental health activist who was diagnosed with Undifferentiated Schizophrenia and Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder as a teenager; and Emma Hardwell, a Youth Participation Officer at The Mix which offers mental health support to those under the age of 25, as well as Newsbeat presenter Pria Rai.
BBC Radio 1’s Newsbeat presenter, Pria Rai, said: “Let’s be honest, the news can be a heavy place. It’s felt like one ‘unprecedented’ thing after another. Be it Covid, the cost of living crisis or exam stresses, it can take a toll on your mental health. Newsbeat always wants to just let our listeners know, it’s okay – you’re not the only one feeling like that. People not only switch us on to get the news, but to share openly and frankly how they are feeling. That’s humbling; to be a trusted part of people’s lives enough that they can send us a text about feeling lonely, or having lost a loved one. We have total strangers speaking to each other on the radio who soon feel like familiar friends and that’s a really important, uplifting part of what we do.”
Find the interview on BBC Sounds now.