The pregnant Duchess of Cambridge heard about the impact that mental health illnesses can have on new mothers as she visited a key research facility into mental health issues.
Kate, who is pregnant with her third child who is due in April, met academics at the innovative King’s College London’s Maurice Wohl Clinical Neuroscience Institute, which is developing new therapies for mental health illnesses.
She was told that at least 20% of women are affected by mental health problems in their first year after the birth. If untreated, it could have a long lasting impact on the family.
She also raised a chuckle among the scientists who told her about an experimental therapy in which an avatar is used to help a person with schizophrenia cope with hearing voices.
She said “as in the movie Avatar” before being told about the therapy which involves a face-to-face talk between a person with schizophrenia and an avatar representing their auditory hallucination. It may help reduce symptoms when given along with usual treatment.
They explained it was not character in the Hollywood film and Kate responded by saying “oh how interesting” when told of the value of this work.
Professor Louise Howard, a professor of women’s mental health, said: “She was interested in the fact that we look at the whole range of issues including PTSD and self-harm.
“She was interested in understanding the whole breadth of the issues and how to make people more robust.”
The institute is part of the university’s efforts to fast-track new treatments to patients affected by conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia and epilepsy.
The work undertaken by the academics at the leading teaching and research university is likely to find practical use helping to treat mothers at the Bethlem Royal Hospital.
Kate, who wore a baby blue coat and dress by Seraphine, visited a laboratory at the institute, part of King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, and received a briefing on its work in perinatal research – study surrounding the time of a child’s birth – before meeting senior academics conducting research in perinatal psychiatry.