A VERY lucky volunteer of a mental health charity got the chance to meet Prince Harry and share their experiences with mental health problems.

Earlier this month, 23-year-old Jessica Morgan from Leigh, a Mind volunteer , met Prince Harry at a barbecue at Kensington Palace to recognise the role people play in supporting others through mental health problems.

Prince Harry has spoken of his regret that he did not talk about how the death of his mother, Princess Diana, affected him until three years ago.

The barbecue united people supported by the seven mental health charities involved in Heads Together, a campaign spearheaded by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, which aims to make people feel comfortable with their everyday mental wellbeing, feel able to support their friends and families through difficult times, and ensure that fear no longer prevents people getting help they need.

Mind volunteer Jessica Morgan spoke to Prince Harry about her own experiences of depression, and how running “saved her life”.

Jessica has experienced mental health problems since her teenage years. However, after joining a running crew and being part of a team, she now feels able to talk about her experiences, and credits running as “saving her life”. She has since completed the Great Wall of China marathon in aid of Mind. She was bullied from a young age for being adopted. In her early twenties Jessica began to seek counselling with Southend Mind and started running.

She quickly felt part of a community and the people she met through her running crews are now her closest and dearest friends. She has now run four marathons in the space of a year to raise funds and awareness for Mind including the Great Wall of China Marathon

Jessica also created a blog which she realised is helping others who may not have a support network around them. The 23-year-old said: “I was so proud to represent Mind and attend the Heads Together barbecue with Prince Harry to talk about mental health.

"The whole day was amazing and not only did I get to meet Prince Harry, but I also got to meet sports stars like Dame Kelly Holmes, Rio Ferdinand and Iwan Thomas.

“As an athlete and someone with experience of mental health problems, it was particularly inspiring to hear my personal hero, Dame Kelly Holmes, talk candidly about her own battles with depression. It reminded me that mental health is something that really can affect anyone.

“All in all, it was fantastic to be surrounded by so many people talking openly about their own experiences of mental health. The more people speak out and share their experiences, the more awareness is raised and the more we can do to support each other.”

At the Heads Together barbecue Jessica met and played French Cricket with Rio Ferdinand, Dame Kelly Holmes, Victoria Pendleton, Jonathan Trott and Iwan Thomas. The sports stars talked with Prince Harry and Jessica about tough times in their lives and struggles with their mental health or wellbeing and the importance of being supported by others.

Prince Harry, said: “If you can improve your own well-being and everyone else’s around you as well, and get your mind as strong as your body, imagine what we could achieve.”

Paul Farmer, Mind Chief Executive, added: “Heads Together is a really exciting new campaign being led by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry with the potential to transform the way that we think and talk about mental health and wellbeing.

“We are delighted that Their Royal Highnesses are joining the growing movement that is fighting to end mental health stigma. Our Time to Change campaign, which we run with the charity Rethink Mental Illness, has made great strides to change public attitudes about mental health but we have always said that we can’t take on the challenge alone and to have the backing of these global icons is phenomenal.We hope that in the run up to the Virgin Money London Marathon in April 2017 we’ll be able to inspire people across the UK to have conversations about their mental health and to get active.”