Guest written by: Stephanie Richardson
Last week, Kate Middleton (also known as the princess with great hair and amazing fashion sense) released a public service announcement video supporting children’s mental health.
Watch the video here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/17/kate-middleton-childrens-_n_6699266.html
The video caught my eye, not only because it is in my area of research interest, but because I have yet to see her speak! After some investigation, I have found that Kate has rarely given interviews or speeches, so I was curious with what she had to say about mental illness.
Before watching the video, I’ll admit, I was slightly worried.
Will she talk about something that isn’t backed up by research? Will she give the wrong message to the would-be millions of viewers? Will her status prevent her from really understanding the commoner?
Known as the ‘halo effect’ in psychology, our overall impression of a person influences how we think about their character. Since we find famous people attractive and successful, we tend to perceive them as intelligent. Research has shown that people “can’t help but follow health advice from celebrities”. We trust famous people, even when they are giving advice that is outside their area of expertise, and even if what they are saying is not backed up by research.
After watching the video, I must say, I was extremely happy! Kate’s claims are backed up by science, and she brings up many important points… mental health care should begin in childhood, mental health is as important as physical health, and school-based care is vital….
Reading the comments below the video on YouTube and other sources that posted the video, I worry that the message was being lost by some viewers. Many of the comments focused on the tone of her voice and the fact that people have never actually heard her speak before. Other comments focused on the way her hands were moving awkwardly as she spoke and the fact that ‘she doesn’t look pregnant’.
Despite the unrelated comments on the video, I hope the ‘halo effect’ applies to Kate, and that her message does not fall upon deaf ears. Childhood and youth mental illness is a very serious issue in the UK as well as Canada, and it is essential that children receive the care they need and that the stigma surrounding mental illness is reduced and, perhaps even one day, erased completely.