The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have today given their backing to a new mental health support network to help frontline workers battling coronavirus.
William and Kate’s Royal Foundation is formally backing a new initiative, called ‘Our Frontline’, which will see leading charities and organisations provide round-the-clock mental health support to everyone from NHS staff to bus drivers.
The couple say supporting frontline workers during the Covid-19 pandemic will be their ‘top priority’ in the months ahead.
The Duke of Cambridge, 37, who has worked as an air ambulance pilot in the past, 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.
William and Kate’s Royal Foundation is formally backing a new initiative, called ‘Our Frontline’, aimed at supporting frontline workers. Here William and Kate are pictured with the Queen, who celebrated her 94th birthday yesterday
‘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.
‘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 project will be a combination of one-to-one support and online resources for any NHS workers, carers, emergency services personnel and key workers whose psychological wellbeing comes under pressure.
Charities Mind, Samaritans and Hospice UK will all be involved in the initiative, as will Shout – a text messaging helpline supporting people in crisis.
The Our Frontline project, backed by William and Kate (pictured), will be a combination of one-to-one support and online resources for any NHS workers, carers, emergency services personnel and key workers
William and Kate’s charitable organisation will help raise awareness about the new resource.
Frontline staff and key workers can call or text a trained volunteer and access specially developed online resources, tool kits and advice to support their mental health.
The duke, whose grandmother the Queen turned 94 yesterday, has experience of being in the same environment as doctors, nurses and other health workers as he was a pilot with the East Anglian Air Ambulance.
He has spoken in the past about the mental pressures that came with the job.
In a 2018 interview, William said the experience of attending several traumatic emergencies involving children and having his own children ‘tipped me over the edge’, but speaking to his crew helped him cope with the ‘enormous sadness’ that he had witnessed.
Later on Wednesday, the duke will chair a roundtable call with representatives from the emergency services sector and the NHS to learn more about the mental health challenges key workers face and how Our Frontline can support them.
The Duke of Cambridge has his own personal experience of being a key worker, having worked for the East Anglian Air Ambulance service
Those on the call will include NHS England and NHS Improvement, Faculty of Pre Hospital Care – Royal College of Surgeons, Mind, Lifelines Scotland, Association of Ambulance Chief Executives, National Police Chiefs’ Council, the Fire Fighters Charity, Police Care UK and the Ambulance Staff Charity.
Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, said: ‘Every day, those working in health and social care, 999 services and other vital roles – staff working in supermarkets, pharmacies, transport, catering and cleaning to name a few – face huge challenges to their physical and mental health.
‘That’s why it’s so important they can easily access information and contact trained advisers to help promote good mental health, any time of day or night.’
Frontline staff and other key workers can see more information at www.ourfrontline.org or visit @OurFrontlineUK on social media.