Prince William highlights mental health issues

On Sunday, Prince William will cheer on runners taking part for the mental health campaign, Heads Together, at the London Marathon.
On Sunday, Prince William will cheer on runners taking part for the mental health campaign, Heads Together, at the London Marathon.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Prince William has spoken of his shock at being called out to his first suicide as an air ambulance pilot in a joint interview with his brother, Prince Harry, on tackling masculinity and mental health issues.

The Duke of Cambridge said the "tipping point" for him in understanding how men struggle to deal with mental health problems came with his work with the East Anglian air ambulance.

"My first callout was to a male suicide and I was told there were five suicides or attempted suicides every day in East Anglia alone. When I looked into it, I was shocked by how bad this situation is - suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK - which is absolutely appalling."

He praised grime star Stormzy, sportsmen Rio Ferdinand and Freddie Flintoff, and rapper Professor Green for publicly talking about pressures on their mental health.

 

The interview with the princes is part of a campaign to encourage better communication about mental health issues. It follows Prince Harry's revelations - in an interview with the Daily Telegraph published on Monday - that he sought counselling after coming close to a breakdown over the death of his mother, Diana.

The interview, with CALMzine, published by the Campaign Against Living Miserably, is for a special edition before the London Marathon on Sunday.

During the event, the princes and Duchess of Cambridge, Catherine, will cheer on runners taking part for their mental health campaign, Heads Together, which is the charity of the year for the marathon.

Talking about how men often feel it was a sign of weakness to discuss their mental health, Prince William said: "There may be a time and a place for the stiff upper lip, but not at the expense of your health.

"The recent interview by Stormzy about his depression was incredibly powerful and will help young men feel that it's a sign of strength to talk about and look after your mind as well as your body."

He said he hoped subsequent generations would find it more normal to talk about their emotions. "Catherine and I are clear that we want both George and Charlotte to grow up feeling able to talk about their emotions and feelings."

Prince Harry, who served two tours in Afghanistan with the army and who actively campaigned to raise awareness of mental health issues within the military, believed progress was being made.

"The military is a complex picture as, on one hand, there is an incredible sense of brotherhood and belonging between you and your mates," he told the magazine.

"You'll do anything for each other - scrub each other's boots, drag each other through the mud - anything.

"Yet, on the other hand, this support for each other hasn't, up to now, included looking after how your buddy is feeling and thinking about things. Hopefully, if men see soldiers talking about mental health, it will give them the confidence to do the same."

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 19, 2017, with the headline 'Prince William highlights mental health issues'. Print Edition | Subscribe