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Duchess of Cambridge encourages students to play sport to support their mental health during campus visit

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·4-min read

Watch: Duchess of Cambridge visits students at the University of Derby

The Duchess of Cambridge encouraged students to keep playing sport to support their mental health as they face online lectures and gathering restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Kate, 38, visited students at the University of Derby on Tuesday to speak to them about how starting or continuing their courses during the pandemic had affected their mental health.

Her visit came ahead of World Mental Health Day which will be marked on Saturday, 10 October.

She arrived wearing a colourful mask to adhere to the rules for staff and students on campus. Posting about the visit online, one student joked: “The Duchess of Cambridge made me late for my lecture.”

The Duchess of Cambridge during a visit to the University of Derby to meet first-year students and hear how the coronavirus pandemic has affected the start of their undergraduate life and what measures have been put in place on campus to support their mental health, ahead of World Mental Health Day on Saturday October 10.
Kate travelled to Derby to speak to students about how their courses were impacted by COVID-19. (PA)
Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge gestures as she chats with staff and edwardsstudents during her visit to the University of Derby in Derby, central England, on October 6, 2020, where she met students to hear how the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has impacted university life, and what national measures have been put in place to support student mental health. (Photo by Arthur EDWARDS / various sources / AFP) (Photo by ARTHUR EDWARDS/AFP via Getty Images)
Kate braved high heels on the university's 4G pitch. (AFP)

Kate wore a grey jumper with black trousers and a checked coat for the visit with a gold necklace that had a special meaning.

The personalised piece has three pendants, bearing the first initial of each of her children.

She first spoke to a group of representatives from Student Minds about whether there had been an “increase in awareness” among students when it came to help for mental health, and whether it was “integrated” into their studies.

She also spoke to students about how their studying had been impacted by the restrictions on gatherings.

Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge chats with students during her visit to the University of Derby in Derby, central England, on October 6, 2020, where she met students to hear how the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has impacted university life, and what national measures have been put in place to support student mental health. (Photo by Arthur EDWARDS / POOL / AFP) (Photo by ARTHUR EDWARDS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Kate said it was great to hear how the students were being supported as they returned or started at university. (AFP)
The Duchess of Cambridge during a visit to the University of Derby to meet first-year students and hear how the coronavirus pandemic has affected the start of their undergraduate life and what measures have been put in place on campus to support their mental health, ahead of World Mental Health Day on Saturday October 10.
Kate wore a necklace with a special meaning, as it featured her children's initials. (PA)
The Duchess of Cambridge during a visit to the University of Derby to meet first-year students and hear how the coronavirus pandemic has affected the start of their undergraduate life and what measures have been put in place on campus to support their mental health, ahead of World Mental Health Day on Saturday October 10.
Kate heard about the supportive networks the students have started, including a text based service. (PA)

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Husna Hanif and Laura Oliver, both 18, told her about how they kept busy during lockdown but admitted they’d found it hard not to see friends.

Kate said it was “great to hear” there was “so much support” for them on campus.

She heard about the Student Minds’ Student Space initiative which offers help and advice over phone or text.

The 24/7 text service is using trained volunteers delivered in partnership with Shout, the text-based support service which the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge set up through the Royal Foundation.

Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge gestures as she chats with students during her visit to the University of Derby in Derby, central England, on October 6, 2020, where she met students to hear how the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has impacted university life, and what national measures have been put in place to support student mental health. (Photo by Arthur EDWARDS / various sources / AFP) (Photo by ARTHUR EDWARDS/AFP via Getty Images)
One of the nurses jokes with Kate during the visit. The nurses have a buddy system so they can speak to someone after a tough shift. (AFP)
Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge meets staff and students during her visit to the University of Derby in Derby, central England, on October 6, 2020, where she met students to hear how the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has impacted university life, and what national measures have been put in place to support student mental health. (Photo by Arthur EDWARDS / POOL / AFP) (Photo by ARTHUR EDWARDS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Kate was given a goody bag as she left the campus after the visit. (AFP)

Kate also heard about the ‘buddy’ system student nurses have implemented to provide them with peer support during difficult placements.

Kate’s visit ended with her watching some of the women football players as they played on the university’s 4G pitch. As she huddled under an umbrella she heard from students about how important sport was to their mental wellbeing.

She added: “Particularly when it’s outdoors as it hasn’t got any restrictions to it.”

DERBY, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 06: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge visits students at the University of Derby to hear how the pandemic has impacted university life and what national measures have been put in place to support student mental health on October 6, 2020 in Derby, England. (Photo by Arthur Edwards - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Kate laughed along with some of the students as they explained how they were supporting each other during the start of term. (Getty Images)
DERBY, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 06: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge visits students at the University of Derby to hear how the pandemic has impacted university life and what national measures have been put in place to support student mental health on October 6, 2020 in Derby, England. (Photo by Arthur Edwards - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Kate went to university in Scotland, where she read History of Art at St Andrew’s. She graduated in 2005. (WPA Pool/Getty Images)

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University students have had a difficult start to the term, with thousands having to self-isolate in their halls after COVID outbreaks at some campuses.

More than 50 universities have confirmed cases of coronavirus, with students isolating at places including Manchester Metropolitan University, Northumbria University, and Glasgow University.

Universities UK has published a checklist to help institutions ensure their students have everything they need, including access to food, laundry services, cleaning materials, bin bags, tissues and toilet rolls.

Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge reacts during her visit to the University of Derby in Derby, central England, on October 6, 2020, where she met students to hear how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted university life, and what national measures have been put in place to support student mental health. (Photo by Arthur EDWARDS / various sources / AFP) (Photo by ARTHUR EDWARDS/AFP via Getty Images)
Kate spoke to students ahead of World Mental Health Day. (Getty Images)
The Duchess of Cambridge during a visit to the University of Derby to meet first-year students and hear how the coronavirus pandemic has affected the start of their undergraduate life and what measures have been put in place on campus to support their mental health, ahead of World Mental Health Day on Saturday October 10.
The Duchess of Cambridge during a visit to the University of Derby to meet first-year students and hear how the coronavirus pandemic has affected the start of their undergraduate life. (PA)

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The National Union of Students (NUS) has warned about people’s mental health if they are ‘trapped in halls” and Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised he will get students home for Christmas.

Some may have to self-isolate when they get back to their family homes.

Kate went to university in Scotland, where she read History of Art at St Andrew’s.

It’s where she met her husband Prince William, who was on the same course but switched to geography.

Kate is credited with persuading him to stay at university when he wasn’t enjoying it after the first year.

They graduated in 2005.

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