Those who work in charity will have very different opinions on celebrity ambassadors, what they can do, what they should be paid and whether they should be paid at all. This week, two important charities have been placed in the spotlight by famous faces – but with extremely different results.
This week marks the first ever Children’s Mental Health Week and on Monday this issue was splashed across front pages as the Duchess of Cambridge kicked off the campaign with a heart-warming speech about the cold, hard facts of mental health in youngsters.
Just a day later, those front pages were replaced with headlines of Made In Chelsea’s Binky Felstead allegedly being paid a huge sum to front an Instagram campaign for Barnardo’s. The charity later released a statement to confirm that the accusations were only half true – and that Binky – real name Alexandra Felstead, had only been paid £3,000.
The Duchess of Cambridge’s speech – though given in her role as Royal Patron of the fantastic charity Place2Be, which launched Children’s Mental Health Week – was also slightly overshadowed by stories of the royal’s pregnancy, and the fact she was public speaking at all.
Whatever your opinions on fame and how those in the public eye can benefit charities at all – we NEED to focus on the facts. It’s day three on the first EVER Children’s Mental Health Week, and it’s already losing its moment in the spotlight. It must not.
It’s hard enough to swallow that mental health is still such a stigma among adults in the UK. Let alone among children. As the Duchess so eloquently put it: “No one would feel embarrassed about seeking help for a child if they broke their arm, and we really should be equally ready to support a child coping with emotional difficulties.”
So why aren’t we?
The most important statistic to take away from this week’s campaign is that 94% of mental health funding is still spent on adults.
Yet three quarters of adult mental illness begins before the age of 18. So why are under 18s only allocated a measly 6% of the funding?
Place2Be’s facts are worth noting, remembering, sharing, retweeting, and quite frankly shouting from the rooftops.
· 3 children in every classroom have a diagnosable mental health problem.
· Half of those with lifetime mental health issues first experience symptoms by the age of 14.
· Depression and anxiety amongst teenagers have increased by 75% in the past 25 years.
· Children are less likely to suffer from serious mental health difficulties later in life if they receive support at an early age.
One charity who is already succeeding in paving the way for mental health treatment in both adults AND children, is Hestia.
Hestia is a registered charity, founded in 1970 and supported by notdeadfish that works with both adults and children across London. It is calling for mental health funding and service provision to have a greater focus on the welfare of children.
The charity is the largest provider of domestic abuse refuges in London, helping over 500 victims of domestic abuse every day, and also provides a wide range of mental health services, ex-offender programmes and a project helping victims of human trafficking.
Hestia has called for services and commissioning to be more ‘joined up’ in order to ensure the needs of children in crisis are better met. The charity already commits to provide a children’s worker in every one of its 36 domestic abuse refuges, as well as providing an activities co-ordinator and funding for activities to help ensure services are personalised and focussed.
Patrick Ryan, Chief Executive of Hestia, says: ‘We know from our own experience the importance of tailored support being offered to children as well as adults, and that is why we are the only organisation committed to providing a specialist children’s worker in every domestic abuse refuge we operate.’
Place2Be is encouraging all parents and carers to talk openly with their children about their feelings this week, in an attempt to remove the stigma of mental health. And while both the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge do some incredible work in their roles to support this charity, the issue doesn’t begin and end with a viral campaign video.
More funding needs to be allocated to children, to allow for treatment as early as possible.
So keep talking about it, keep sharing the facts – and don’t stop when Friday arrives and Children’s Mental Health Week comes to an end. Because this will still be a problem on Monday – and those children who do need help, need a voice to fight for them – seven days a week, 365 days of the year.
Rebecca Martin is notdeadfish's digital editor. She is also a journalist, copywriter and consultant at Rebecca Martin Media.