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Saturday, 20 April 2019 04:11 pm

Royals put spotlight on mental health at iconic Wellington cafe

Oct 31st, 2018 | By | Category: Latest News, News

Maranui cafe – the location of the morning tea held by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle


Mental health and youth leadership was the focus for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex when they visited the Capital this week.

The royal couple  shared morning tea with advocates in the mental health sector at the iconic Maranui cafe in Lyall Bay.

Melissa Lama outside Maranui cafe after meeting The Duke and Duchess of Sussex

Melissa Lama was one of the select few to discuss the topic with the royals.

Melissa is a founder of the Pacific Youth Leadership and Transformation Trust which focuses on breeding hope while connecting those to the necessary services.

Being invited to talk with the royals was a ‘pinch me’ moment for Melissa whose work derives from her own experiences with mental health.

“I just didn’t see any other opportunity after being a young mum and so I had a moment when I sat there (today) and I kind of felt really emotional.”

Melissa, who is from Christchurch and studying at Otago University, said the Duke and Duchess were authentic people who cared.

“When she asked to introduce yourself I said I’m just a young mum, a Pacific young mum and she goes ‘you’re not just a mum’.”

In Pacific culture, Melissa says they are raised to speak only when they are told which has made it hard for her and others to feel comfortable talking about societal issues including mental health.

“She just said don’t ever doubt what you have to share.

“When Harry walked past he was so sweet and put his hand on my shoulder and said, ‘just keep up the good work and just keep talking’.”

Andrew Slater CEO of the National Telehealth service was also inside Maranui cafe which he described as a genuine meeting.

Andrew says The Duke and Duchess bringing attention to issues such as mental health is helping conversation around a topic that is sometimes seen as taboo.

“I think some of the messages and reframing that they’ve done over the last few days is going to help communities respond differently and improve acceptance and reduce stigma.”

Mental health was the focus of many of the events the royals attended during their four day visit to New Zealand.

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is looking to change the shape of te ao Māori in mainstream media having previously studied at Massey University, completing a Bachelor of Communications.
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