Essex student talks mental health with Prince and Princess of Wales

  • Date

    Mon 7 Nov 22

Essex student Antonio Ferreira

A University of Essex student has recalled the surreal moment he joined the Prince and Princess of Wales for a discussion on mental health during a special episode of BBC Radio 1’s Newsbeat.

Antonio Ferreira, 24, was part of a panel of students and experts who joined the royal couple for a chat around young people’s mental health to mark World Mental Health Day.

Antonio, who is studying Psychology with Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Essex, was himself diagnosed with Undifferentiated Schizophrenia and Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder as a teenager.

He discussed his own journey with the royal couple during the programme and shared tips on how he now manages his mental health.

Antonio described meeting the Prince and Princess of Wales as a ‘surreal experience’, with the duo helping to calm his nerves by being compassionate and relatable.

“I knew they were there in front of me, but I still couldn’t believe it was happening,” Antonio said.

“The one thing I kept reminding myself was that this was a true testament to how far I’ve come.

“From a young teenager hopeless in a mental health ward to sitting in the BBC Live Lounge with the Prince and Princess of Wales, discussing my journey.

“Meeting the royals is a moment I will always cherish and use as my motivation to keep going.

“I cannot thank the royals enough for being a listening ear to us.”

As a mental health activist, Antonio has worked on a number of projects, including helping with a storyline for BBC’s EastEnders around schizophrenia.

He insists the discussion on mental health with the Prince and Princess of Wales shows the importance of open conversations on the subject, and how they can be a catalyst for change.

Antonio said: “When conversations around mental health are discussed by important people it develops a snowball effect.

“I only hope having these conversations with people like the Prince and Princess of Wales will shed light on what it means to be able to discuss our mental health, how it can benefit us and the way in which it can promote mental well-being.

“It’s great to have everyone positively discussing mental health; to have the conversation with the people at the top is our best channel of spreading that greatness.”

Danielle Dwyer, Editor of BBC Radio 1's Newsbeat, added: “We know mental health is really important to our listeners and we also know that when they’re struggling, they often turn to their friends.

“Newsbeat isn’t just about delivering the news - we’re here to be a friend too, and a place our listeners can find support and advice when they need it.

“Talking about mental wellbeing without stigma or judgment is so key and it's brilliant to welcome the Prince and Princess of Wales to our reporting team for the day, to join us in such a vital conversation.”

The other members of the panel for the special Newsbeat programme were Dr Abigail Miranda, an Educational and Child Psychologist working in early years; Ben Cowley, a registered Music Therapist and Assistant Mental Health Advisor for the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama; and Emma Hardwell, a Youth Participation Officer at The Mix which offers mental health support to those under the age of 25.