Mental Health Awareness: Prince Harry and Heads Together
by Lisa DiFalco
More stories show that public figures and celebrities can experience mental health issues. After the public sharing of personal struggles with mental health from well-known figures including Kanye West and the late Carrie Fisher, more people appear willing to disclose that they too have had to seek professional help after a traumatic event or for a mental health condition.
This holds true for Prince Harry, who has chosen to speak out for the first time about his issues when dealing with the death of his mother and the new project that he is a part of in the hopes of combatting stigmas and getting those suffering the help they need to begin to feel better. Find out more about Prince Harry, his path to recovery and the Heads Together project.
Prince Harry was only a young boy of 12 when his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, died in a tragic accident. He and his family were not left to grieve in private. Due to the publicity surrounding her death and from being a child in the public spotlight, he and his brother had to deal with their feelings in a way that could interfere with the very personal and natural processes of grief. He revealed to Bryony Gordon that his way to deal with the loss was to shut down. Harry said:
“I can safely say that losing my mum at the age of 12, and therefore shutting down all of my emotions for the last 20 years, has had a quite serious effect on not only my personal life but my work as well.”
He chose not to process the feelings surrounding his mother’s death. Harry shared:
“My way of dealing with it was sticking my head in the sand, refusing to ever think about my mum, because why would that help?
“[I thought] it’s only going to make you sad, it’s not going to bring her back.
“So from an emotional side, I was like ‘right, don’t ever let your emotions be part of anything.’
“So I was a typical 25, 25, 28-year-old running around going ‘life is great,’ or ‘life is fine,’ and that was exactly it.
“And then [I] started to have a few conversations and actually all of a sudden, all of this grief that I have never processed started to come to the forefront and I was like, there is actually a lot of stuff here that I need to deal with.”
Prince Harry only began to address the grief about this event when he was 28. He sought professional help only after experiencing anxiety during royal engagements and feeling “on the verge of punching someone.” He has spoken up on his experiences to encourage others to remove the stigma often associated with a mental health issue. With his focus on his new charity and in support of having mental health conversations, Harry said:
“What we are trying to do is normalize the conversation to the point where anyone can sit down and have a coffee and just go ‘you know what, I’ve had a really s— day, can I just tell about it? Because then you walk away and it’s done.”
He has found more meaning in many aspects of his life within the past two and a half years. He looks forward to continuing to invest efforts into “things that really make a difference.”
Heads Together Project and the London Marathon
Mental illness impacts the lives of both young and old of any socioeconomic level. Heads Together is jointly coordinated. Prince Harry, along with The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, started the campaign with “the aim to end the stigma around mental health in the UK.”
Many people and organizations are coming together to support the Heads Together project. Those organizations involved include:
- Young Minds; and
- Best Beginnings.
Heads Together was designated as the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon charity of the year. Many of their partnering charities and organizations assist those struggling with mental health concerns through their confidential helplines and a range of online services.
The Virgin Money London Marathon takes place on April 23rd, starting at 10 a.m., beginning at Blackheath and Greenwich Park. There are numerous spots for spectators to catch a glimpse of the runners and a few considerations to keep in mind when attending or traveling to the event, as there will be numerous road closures. For those that cannot make the event, full coverage is available on BBC One from 8:30-14:30 on April 23rd. Other networks will also televise the full event or show highlights.
Mental Illness Can Impact Anyone
What we learn from such stories is that mental health problems do not only occur within the United States but cross the Atlantic and happen to people in the United Kingdom and beyond. Prince Harry is among a growing group of high-profile individuals that at some point in their lives have sought the guidance of a mental health professional.
Online resources, confidential helplines, podcasts, books and educational materials are available to allow mental health professionals to support the needs of those that they serve. What we know is that individuals at any stage of life, including teens, young adults and the elderly can benefit from the range of resources available. Many suffer in silence and have yet to give voice to their daily struggles. Listening without judgment is one of the initial ways that friends and family members can begin to support those suffering from trauma. Parents and loved ones may take the role of advocate to assist an individual with a mental health condition. Individuals trying to help are encouraged to reach out to a mental health professional when a situation appears to be beyond their scope or when a person shows suicidal tendencies or aggression.