Kate Middleton’s children are young, but the Duchess of Cambridge already knows what she would do if either of them began showing symptoms of a mental illness later in life.
“No parent would fail to call the doctor if their child developed a fever, yet some children are tackling tough times without the support that can help them because the adults in their life are scared to ask,” the duchess said at the launch of a new podcast from the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families.
“Both William and I feel very strongly that we wouldn’t hesitate to get expert support for George and Charlotte if they need it,” she said.
Seeking treatment for a mental illness is a process that can be fraught with confusion, roadblocks, and, perhaps most damaging: stigma.
Many living with mental disorders find the risk of shame, stereotyping, and exclusion from employment and social circles too great to consider getting treated. A study commissioned by the World Health Organization estimated that for some illnesses, over 50% of those with diagnosable symptoms are not under the care of a medical professional.
Even when sufferers manage to overcome those obstacles, in the United States, treatment can be expensive and good care hard to find.
For families with adolescent children — when many mental disorders are most likely to manifest — the choice can be a difficult one.
Patients with mental disorders deserve judgment-free access to care like they would get for any other disease.
High-profile statements like the duchess’, which draw a straight line between mental and physical illness, go a long way to helping build empathy for sufferers.
Of course, the duke and duchess are uniquely positioned to access and afford care, and they live in a country where many mental health services are provided free of charge (though questions about the efficacy and availability of care persist).
But it’s a positive sign that the duchess is using her platform to try to take the shame out of seeking help.
It won’t fix anything overnight.
But for families on the fence, the choice to seek help for themselves or their children may have just gotten a little easier.