Mental Health Campaigner Praises Prince William And Princess Kate’s ‘Empathy’ On Subject

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Mental Health Campaigner Praises Prince William And Princess Kate's 'Empathy' On Subject

The Prince and Princess of Wales have put mental health at the forefront of their work, with the royal couple out in Birmingham, where they alongside the Royal Foundation, The Mix and BBC Radio 1 will be hosting a forum for young people.

Back in 2015, William and Kate visited XLP, a charity that aims to create positive futures for young people growing up in inner-city communities in London.

During the visit, they met with the charity’s founder, Patrick Regan for World Mental Health Day and he revealed how impressed he was by the “empathy” that the couple showed during their visit.

“Having them visit is always good because it amplifies what you’re trying to do in communities,” he explained. “We were working with some amazing people, particularly in the areas of gun and knife crime and gang culture. The Prince and Princess were really passionate about mental health, which was great, as over the years, I have hosted lots of politicians and if I’m honest, sometimes it feels like they’re there for the photo opportunity, but with William and Catherine they had such an interest in the topic, and they were obviously knowledgeable about the topic.

“And with William, when you talk to a young person whose brother has been stabbed and when you talk about bereavement, the emotions, losing someone suddenly like that is frightening. And obviously, that’s what happened to him, one minute, his mum was there the next minute she wasn’t and so I felt like empathy they had a lot of empathy.

“Empathy isn’t saying ‘I know what it feels like to feel your pain’ because no one’s got the same DNA, the same genetics, the same upbringing. Empathy is saying ‘I’m going to believe you what it’s like when you describe your pain and I’m going to listen’. That’s what they offered the young people, they didn’t dream that that someone of royalty would come to their estate and sit down, and ask them how they feel about life.”

William and Kate first visited the charity when the Princess was pregnant with Princess Charlotte, before returning in March of the next year, leading to Patrick sharing plenty of “private moments” with the couple. Revealing what happened during these, he said: “They were just fascinated, really moved by the kids’ stories of overcoming violence, issues around poverty, how persistent poverty can make you angry, and the innovation that was going on in communities.

“On some of the more light-hearted moments, he joked: “We turned a police riot van into a mobile recording studio as part of a programme called Pimp My Ride on MTV. And William loves that program. Me and Catherine tried to get him rapping, but I think his PR people thought better of it.

“Despite plenty of joyous emotions during his meetings with the Prince and Princess, Patrick was actually going through a dark time mentally, needing extensive medical treatment on his legs, while also dealing with his father falling ill with cancer and his own children becoming sick at the same time.

“Looking back now I see those photographs which were in newspapers of me with the royals and they went around the world, but in them, I’m in a bad place,” he shared. “And it was nothing to do with their visit, that was a highlight.”

He added: “The showreel sometimes looks great, but behind the scenes is always something else. After I had that breakdown, I was like ‘When I have a chance to communicate, whether it’s in the media or in person, I’m going to tell people about the behind-the-scenes and not just the showreel’.

“I want people to know that you meet these people, and you do incredible things, but we’ve got to be real and honest because honesty breeds more honesty. As soon as someone’s honest and vulnerable, then other people can start being vulnerable and then we can start having a bit more of a human conversation about things.”

Patrick’s own battles with his mental health led to him and his wife, Diane, setting up Kintsugi Hope, a charity based on the Japanese art of Kintsugi, which is the practice of mending broken objects with gold.

The charity has exploded in popularity and even flourished during the lockdowns, with Patrick saying: “We’ve trained 1,500 people, we have 400 registered organisations, and over 10,000 people have been through the groups. The most amazing thing is when you read the evaluations and people go, ‘You know what, I’m not sure I’ll be alive today if it wasn’t for this group’. People need that peer support.”

Sharing more about how the group works, he explained: “Me and my wife wrote a 12-step program loosely based on Alcoholics Anonymous, looking at wellbeing, and we decided to take massive topics. The 12 steps look at honesty, anxiety, depression, shame, anger, grief and loss, perfectionism, self-acceptance, forgiveness, helping people, and resilience, with the final week being a review.”

And on a potential future visit from the Prince and Princess, he teased: “I’ll get them having a go Kintsugi, it’s not easy! When you break a pot and you mend it, you go through a really interesting process. I would also let them listen to the stories of the people in our groups, and just the histories that they’ve had.”

Kintsugi Hope isn’t the only thing Patrick currently has on his plate, as he is also releasing his own book, Brighter Days. “People kept trying to give me books to read,” he explained. “And they were really thick books and really dense and I was in a different headspace where I just couldn’t read.

“So, I decided to write the sort of book that I wish I had when I was going through a really tough time, about all the things to do with mental and emotional health, and to write it in a style which is really digestible, so short stories, poems, quotes.”

He added: “I want Brighter Days to give people that slightly different perspective, that small changes can have a massive impact. With suicide being the biggest killer of young men, men not talking about their mental health, I thought I could just do a little bit to help.”

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Mr Priceless
A young person with a passion for success and excellence to develop a professional career that encourages empowerment in the overall development of a person which is achieved through hard work. A Journalist with facts and a difference; standing by the truth all the time with interests in Science & Technology, Health, Celebrities' Lifestyle, Crimes, Education and Career Improvement.

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