Shout: Royal houses of Sussex and Cambridge join forces on mental health helpline

The dukes and duchesses have pledged £3 million to the service from their Royal Foundation

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Prince William and Catherine Duchess of Cambridge joined Prince Harry and Meghan Duchess of Sussex
 100th Anniversary of the Royal Air Force, London, UK - 10 Jul 2018
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They may have split their royal courts earlier this year but Prince William and Prince Harry, along with their wives Catherine and Meghan, have proved they're still a team when it comes to fighting the stigmas surrounding mental health.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, on Thursday revealed the launch of a new service to help support people in crisis.

Shout is a free text-messaging platform that operates 24 hours a day to connect those in need with trained volunteers, who can help them work through immediate problems as well as finding long-term support.

The royals have pledged £3 million (Dh14.3m) to the initiative from their Royal Foundation, their biggest investment in a single project to date.

Shout is designed to offer users, particularly those from younger generations, with instantaneous, accessible and private mental health help, so they can open up a dialogue with a trained professional at any time of the day.

Currently, the service has 1,000 volunteers, though Shout hopes to grow that number to 4,000 by the end of the year. In a year-long pilot programme, the service helped around 60,000 users.

“We are incredibly excited to be launching this service, knowing it has the potential to reach thousands of vulnerable people every day," said the royal houses of Sussex and Cambridge in a statement. "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."

Prince William has also featured in a video appeal, calling for volunteers to join the platform. To work with Shout, volunteers must be over 18 years old, have access to a computer and internet, and be able to undergo 25 hours of initial training. Once approved, volunteers commit two to four hours a week to working for the service.

“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," Princes William and Harry, and Meghan and Catherine, added. "We hope that many more of you will join us and be part of something very special.”

Shout forms part of the royals' Heads Together campaign, an initiative first launched in 2017 to tackle stigma around mental health. Princes William and Harry have been widely praised for speaking out about their own struggles with mental health in the wake of the death of their mother, Princess Diana.

The Duke of Cambridge is also due to appear in a new BBC programme, titled A Royal Team Talk, where he opens up about mental health alongside football stars such as England manager Gareth Southgate. The show, which also features Peter Crouch, Thierry Henry, Danny Rose and Jermaine Jenas, will air on May 19, where participants discuss everything from "depression and racism to career-ending injury and emotional pressures".