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Prince William has been joined by a host of celebrity mental health advocates to help launch the UK's Mental Health Awareness Week in style. 

Katy Perry, Jameela Jamil, Alesha Dixon, and Stephen Fry all lent their voices to the Duke of Cambridge’s “mental health minute” — a minute-long message that was broadcast across more than 300 radio stations at 10:59 a.m. on Monday. 

The message has been spearheaded by Heads Together, the mental health campaign launched by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince Harry. 

It begins with two quick-fire questions from Dixon: “What does S-H-O-P spell”? and, “What do you do at a green light?” 

The point of the questions, designed to catch out radio listeners, is then highlighted by Perry: “So while we’re listening, we’re not really listening.”

“We do it all the time,” adds Jamil. “Life can just get too busy.” 

Stephen Fry, well known for speaking out about his own experiences with manic depression, adds: “There are people out there desperate to be heard.” 

The message urges listeners to support their friends, colleagues, family, and anyone else, by “taking the time to listen.” 

According to Prince William in the message, “being able to talk about how you’re feeling is essential for keeping mentally fit and healthy.” 

“So maybe now is the time for us to stop and to really listen,” he says. 

The message closes by reminding listeners that: “Right now, you are one of the 20 million people listening on more than 300 radio stations.” 

“And each and every one of us has the power to make a a difference to someone,” it continues. “Just by taking a minute to stop and to listen. To really listen.” 

In Britain, 1 in 4 adults and 1 in 10 children experience mental health problems to some degree in any year, according to the Mental Health Foundation. And the impact of these mental health problems will “ripple out” to affect many more people through their social networks of family, education, work, and community. 

This year, the UK’s Mental Health Awareness week — which runs from May 13 to 19 — is focussing on the theme of body image, and how we think and feel about our bodies. 

According to a poll from the Mental Health Foundation, 1 in 8 British adults (13%) has considered taking their own lives because of concerns relating to body image. 

Some 35% of the 4,505 adults polled said their body image made them feel depressed, and 34% said it made them feel anxious. Nearly one-fifth (19%) reported feeling “disgusted.” 

Almost half of the 18- to 24-year-olds who responded said that social media provoked anxieties about how they look, and about 20% said images used in advertising had the same effect. 

“For some people this is potentially very severe, with large numbers saying they have self-harmed or had suicidal thoughts and feelings,” said CEO of the Mental Health Foundation, Mark Rowland, reported the Independent. 

“Many people identified social media as an important factor causing them to worry about their body image — and the majority of respondents felt the government needed to take more action,” he added. 

But mental health is a serious problem all around the world. According to the Mental Health Foundation, mental health problems are one of the main causes of the overall disease burden worldwide.

A growing body of evidence indicates that poor mental health is connected to socioeconomic status, the foundation adds. 

“Poverty increases the risk of mental health problems and can be both a causal factor and a consequence of mental ill health,” says the foundation in a 2016 report

It says that mental health is shaped by the “wide-ranging characteristics (including inequalities) of the social, economic, and physical environmental in which people live.” 

It adds: “Successfully supporting the mental health and wellbeing of people living in poverty, and reducing the number of people with mental health problems experiencing poverty, require engagement with this complexity.” 

If you're based in the UK and want to talk to someone about your mental health or are experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the Samaritans for free at any time, from any phone, on 116 123. You can find international resources here.

You can find more information about the UK's Mental Health Awareness Week, and how you can get involved, here.


Defeat Poverty

Prince William, Stephen Fry, and More Share Mental Health Message We All Need to Hear

By Imogen Calderwood