Kate Middleton, one of the world’s most prominent mental health awareness advocates, kicked off Children’s Mental Health Week in the UK with an emphasis on combating low self-esteem, People reports.
In a moving PSA, Middleton stresses the formative nature of our childhood years, saying, “Our experience of the world at this early stage helps to shape who we become as adults, how we begin to feel comfortable in our own skin.” She continues, “Some children will be facing tougher challenges than others, but I firmly believe that while we cannot change their circumstances, we can ensure that every child is given the best possible support to ensure they fulfill their true potential.”
Children’s Mental Health Week was launched in 2015 by Place2Be, a children’s mental health charity Middleton supports. According to Place2Be, more than eight in 10 young people seeking its one-to-one services suffer from low self-esteem.
Middleton, for her part, committed herself to the improvement of children’s mental health after working with charities related to addiction and family struggles. As she wrote on the Huffington Post in 2016, “It became clear to me that many children – even those younger than five – have to deal with complex problems without the emotional resilience, language or confidence to ask for help.” She added that she and her husband, Prince William, “would not hesitate to seek help for [their] children if they needed it” and wants others to have the confidence, knowledge and resources to do so.
This year’s theme is #BeingOurselves. In the PSA, one young woman says, “In today’s society, it is quite hard, and I feel like it’s important to understand that what you see on social media shouldn’t be what you think you should be.”
Though the #BeingOurselves theme does not focus specifically on social media, it arrives at a time when the global spotlight is on young people’s use of technology and its effects on their mental health. From a letter to Apple from shareholders regarding youth phone addiction to warnings from tech executives, the conversation is only growing.
Research has shown that American teens’ self-esteem, along with their general happiness, dropped steeply in 2012 – the first year that more than half of the country’s population owned smartphones. Researchers have also found that risk of suicide is 35 percent higher for teens who spend three or more hours on devices.
In a statement to E! News, Place2Be’s Chief Executive Catherine Roche said, “We know from our work in schools that some children find it difficult to think of themselves positively, as it’s all too easy nowadays to compare ourselves negatively to others, especially online. This Children’s Mental Health Week we are encouraging everyone, and especially children and young people, to focus on what makes them who they are, and to celebrate their unique qualities and strengths.”