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Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, Kate Middleton, and Prince William spent the last 6 months working together on a secret project

Mikhaila Friel , Business Insider US
 May 10, 2019, 05:06 PM

Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, Kate Middleton, and Prince William.
Stephen Pond/ Getty Images.
  • Prince William, Kate Middleton, Prince Harry, and Meghan Markle have teamed up to launch Shout, a mental health helpline service that operates via text.
  • The two couples have worked in secret for the last six months, going behind-the-scenes and meeting volunteers for the new programme.
  • Prince William officially launched the helpline on Friday, and called for volunteers to sign up in a video posted on Twitter.
  • For more, go to Business Insider SA.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have teamed up to launch a new mental health texting helpline.

The new helpline, Shout, will operate 24/7 to support those "who need advice in a tough moment." Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, Prince William, and Kate Middleton have been working in secret over the past six months to develop the helpline and to meet volunteers.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex meeting volunteers.
REUTERS/ Kensington Palace.

Prince William announced the launch in a video posted to Twitter.

"Three years ago, Catherine, Harry, and I kicked off the Heads Together campaign with our fantastic charity partners. We wanted to work with all of you to change the national conversation on mental health," he said in the clip.

"There is more work to do, but something is really starting to change. As part of the legacy of the Heads Together campaign, we wanted to do our bit to make it easier for people to start to get the help they need.

"Crucially, we wanted to back new, innovative ways for people to have conversations wherever they are, at whatever time they need.

"Today I can announce that the Royal Foundation had made their biggest ever investment to do just that. And what's more, we want you to be part of that.

He went on to say: "Over the last few months, Shout has started working quietly behind the scenes. Harry, Meghan, Catherine and I have been able to see the service working up close and are very excited for its future."

Also read: This SA charity raised more than R400,000 in ten days - after Prince Harry and Meghan asked fans to send baby gifts their way 

The service, which will work in partnership with Crisis Textline in the US, is aimed at "younger people" and is there to "provide instant support" for those in need.

"As texting is private - and silent - it provides instant support. You can have a conversation at anywhere or anytime - at school, at home, on the bus, anywhere," William said.

The duke then went on to call for volunteers, who will eventually act as responders to the text messages received by the helpline.

As long as you're over the age of 18, have an internet connection and can spare 25 hours a week for training, you are eligible to volunteer.

Prince Harry and Markle revealed they have been working on the project and attending secret meetings as far back as November.

"Earlier last year, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex began supporting this vital program behind the scenes by hosting a meeting at Kensington Palace with contributors and partners," they said in a statement on Instagram.

"Last November, Their Royal Highnesses also made a surprise visit to meet with a group of Shout volunteers, and participated in a panel with mental health activist @bryonygordon hearing firsthand how the volunteers have found making the connection with vulnerable texters, a majority of whom are under 25, so rewarding - helping to get them through a moment of crisis to a calmer place, and giving them courage to find longer-term support."

They also revealed that Shout has already "quietly enlisted and trained" 1,000 volunteers over the past year.

Shout is now one of a number of mental health initiatives created by Princes William and Harry, who already have their Heads Together campaign, which was created to tackle the stigma surrounding mental health.

In April, Prince Harry also announced plans to co-produce a mental health documentary series with Oprah Winfrey for Apple.

The idea behind the series will be to encourage viewers to talk about the challenges and daily struggles that they are facing.

Speaking on the launch of Shout, William, Middleton, Harry, and Markle said in a joint statement: "We are incredibly excited to be launching this service, knowing it has the potential to reach thousands of vulnerable people every day.

"Over the last few months Shout has started working quietly behind the scenes. We have all been able to see the service working up close and are so excited for its future.

"At the heart of this service will be an incredible national volunteer community, one which needs to grow to allow us to support more people in crisis. We hope that many more of you will join us and be part of something very special."

To find out more and to learn about the volunteering process, visit Shout's official website.

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