The Duke of Cambridge on Monday praised the high-profile public figures who are speaking openly about their mental health, as he warned that no one should try to keep a stiff upper lip at the expense of their welfare.
The Duke, whose brother Prince Harry disclosed in this newspaper he has had therapy to help come to terms with their mother’s death, said there has for too long been a “taboo” around speaking about such important issues.
The idea that successful, strong people do not suffer emotional difficulties is false, he said, adding: “We all do. It’s just few of us speak about it.”
The Duke said he and the Duchess of Cambridge wanted their children, George and Charlotte, to grow up “feeling able to talk about their emotions and feelings”.
Prince Harry yesterday told The Daily Telegraph about the difficulties he endured after shutting down his emotions following the death of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales.
In the interview, he said the Duke had tried to help him, saying: “This is not right, this is not normal, you need to talk about stuff, it’s OK.”
In an interview for CALMzine, the charity magazine aimed at tackling mental health in men, the Duke said: “Attitudes are changing and this is being helped by high-profile people talking about their experience.
“Men like Professor Green, Freddie [Andrew] Flintoff and Rio Ferdinand have led the way and made films for Heads Together showing the conversations they have had about pressures on their mental health.
“The recent interview by Stormzy [the hip-hop artist] 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. There may be a time and a place for the ‘stiff upper lip’, but not at the expense of your health.”
On how best to tackle stressful situations, he added: “Sometimes, emotions have to be put to one side to get the job done, but if you have been through an especially traumatic or stressful situation it is essential to talk it through after the event.
“If you don’t acknowledge how you feel it will only bottle up and could reassert itself later as illness.”
In the interview, released yesterday but conducted before Prince Harry’s podcast was aired, the Duke spoke of his hopes for the future after noticing a new generation of emotionally articulate children during his work in schools.
“Catherine and I are clear that we want both George and Charlotte to grow up feeling able to talk about their emotions and feelings,” he said.
Prince Harry also told the magazine: “We will all go through tough times in our lives, but men especially feel the need to pretend that everything is OK, and that admitting this to their friends will make them appear weak. I can assure you this is actually a sign of strength.”
The Prince, 32, was roundly praised yesterday after speaking to Bryony Gordon on her new podcast, Mad World, about the “total chaos” he experienced in his twenties as he struggled to process his mother’s death.
Paul Farmer, the chief executive of Mind, the mental health charity, said: “It shows how far we have come in changing public attitudes to mental health that someone so high profile can open up about something so difficult and personal.
“We know that this will have a huge impact on people who are still struggling in silence with their mental health – every time someone in the public eye speaks up we know that it encourages ordinary members of the public to do the same.
“Prince Harry speaking so candidly is a true turning point that shows that as a society we must no longer adopt a ‘stiff upper lip’ attitude and that we need to talk openly about mental health, something that affects us all directly.”
Time to Change director Sue Baker said: “Prince Harry sharing his experiences of mental health issues and the counselling he sought as a result of losing his mother will have helped change attitudes, not just at home but also overseas.”
Founder patron of Child Bereavement UK and author of Grief Works Julia Samuel, who was also a friend to Diana, Princess of Wales and is godmother to Prince George, said: “I wholeheartedly support the campaign and I’m so grateful for him [Harry] having the courage to speak out.
She said that Prince Harry’s admission that it was “very important to speak about grief helps change and move the dial in our understanding about grieving, because it’s still a taboo”.
A charity campaigner and one of Diana, Princess of Wales’ friends, Rosa Monckton, said: “It is a very courageous act and I hope it will encourage many others to confront their own demons. I am sure Diana, who was always brave in the causes she embraced, would have been proud of him.” – Daily Telegraph
Available at telegraph.co.uk/MadWorld