The Duke of Sussex visited YMCA to talk mental health

The Duke of Sussex visited the YMCA to talk about mental health with young people, teenagers and some of the incredible organisations that support them. 

The Duke of Sussex visited the YMCA South Ealing to meet some of the young residents who live at the centre, some of the team that look after their residents’ mental wellbeing, and a number of organisations who are all working to change the conversation on mental health for young people in the UK.

YMCA is the largest provider of safe, supported accommodation for young people in England and Wales. In total, they offer more than 9,100 beds each night, giving people somewhere to stay both in emergencies, in hostels and in supported longer-term accommodation. Through their local association network we also provide mental health services to 17,000 young people each year through a mix of knowledge and awareness workshops, family mediation and therapeutic services.

The centre we visited has 150 residents in long-term supported accommodation. Many of these people have lived through traumatic experiences and work with the Mental Health Champions at the YMCA to support their wellbeing.

One of the Mental Health champions he met was Sophia, who we were lucky enough to spend some time with and talk to her about her experiences. When Sophia was 12, she left school to become a young carer for her mother and grandmother. Tragically, both passed away when she was still just a teenager, and her mental health suffered as a result. She then found YMCA and has gone from strength to strength – working on their Young Carers programme and using everything she’s been through to make a real and positive difference to other young people’s lives.

Read Sophia’s story here

During his visit, The Duke learned more about how the YMCA is providing vital support to these young people and others in the area. He met some of the residents; some of the people who are involved in the YMCA’s Mental Health Champions programme; as well as the people behind the ‘I am whole’ campaign, run by the NHS and YMCA.

The challenges young people are facing are complicated, numerous and constantly evolving, and there are many organisations in the UK doing fantastic work to address each issue. Today, we’ve brought them all together to meet with The Duke of Sussex and discuss the current climate of support for mental health problems and the personal and social issues that are often the underlying cause.

Suzanne Jacob OBE, Chief Executive of Safe Lives said: “Mental health in young people is multi-faceted, and we need to understand all the challenges a young person may face. That is why it is so brilliant to see the Duke of Sussex meet a range of charities today, to discuss how we help young people in a way that sees them as whole people, not single issues to be solved. We are honoured to be around that table and look forward to working closely with Heads Together and The Royal Foundation to ensure an understanding of domestic abuse is at the heart of this work”

Organisations involved in the roundtable meeting include:


Beat is the UK’s eating disorder charity, committed to ending the pain and suffering caused by eating disorders. They are a champion, guide and friend to anyone affected, giving individuals experiencing an eating disorder and their loved ones a place where they feel listened to, supported and empowered.

Over 70,000 children are looked after away from home in care in the UK. Become are committed to ensuring that children who spend time in care, and young care leavers have equal chances to lead a happy and fulfilling life to those who are raised in their birth families.

Brook has been providing wellbeing and sexual health support to young people for over 50 years. They offer services in local communities, education programmes, training for professionals and advocacy work, which empower young people to make positive and healthy lifestyle choices.

Ditch the Label is an international anti-bullying charity, striving towards a world that is fair, equal and free from all types of bullying. 1 in 2 people have experienced bullying, so the pioneering work Ditch the Label does to support people online with guides and resources is critical.

Mermaids are passionate about supporting children, young people, and their families to achieve a happier life in the face of great adversity. The campaign for the recognition of gender dysphoria in young people and lobbying for improvements in professional services.

The Mix is the UK’s leading support service for young people and is a charity partner of Heads Together. Whatever’s on their mind - from mental health to money, homelessness to drugs, young people can talk to The Mix via online, social or their free, confidential phone or text helplines.

For too many young British Muslims, the feeling of never quite belonging and having to meet conflicting social expectations has caused more and more people to resort to self-harm and substance abuse for escape. MYH provides pioneering faith and culturally sensitive services to young Muslims in the UK.

Every year, nearly 2 million people experience domestic abuse, and all too often, children are in the home and living with the impact. Safe Lives is dedicated to ending domestic abuse, for good. They combine insight from services, survivors and statistics to help people to become safe and rebuild their lives.

Stonewall is committed to championing the rights of the LGBT+ community and letting all lesbian, gay, bi and trans people know that they’re not alone. With the belief that we’re stronger united. Stonewall work with organisations across the UK, to create real change for the better.

Student Minds empower students and members of the university community to look after their own mental health, support others and create change. They're working to transform the state of student mental health so that all in higher education can thrive.

YoungMinds champion the wellbeing and mental health of children and young people, and is a Heads Together charity partner. They create change so that children and young people can cope with life's adversities, find help when needed, and succeed in life.

The YMCA provide mental health services to 17,000 young people each year through a mix of awareness workshops, family mediation and therapeutic services. They also run a Mental Health Champions programme which aims to improve the mental health of young people aged 11 to 21.