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Princes speak out on mental health attitudes

By
WebMD UK Health News
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks
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18th April 2017 – The renowned British 'stiff upper lip' should not be used as a barrier to talking about mental health, according to Prince William.

The Due of Cambridge says mental health issues have been side-lined for too long.

The comments by the second in line to the throne come after his brother, Prince Harry, revealed that he'd sought counselling to come to terms with the death 20 years ago of their mother, Diana, Princess of Wales.

'This has been a taboo for too long'

Prince William has spoken out in a joint interview with his brother given to CALMzine, which is published by the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM).

He says: "For too long there has been a taboo about talking about some important issues. If you were anxious; it’s because you were weak. If you couldn’t cope with whatever life threw at you, it’s because you were failing. Successful, strong people don’t suffer like that, do they? But of course – we all do. It’s just that few of us speak about it."

The Prince acknowledges that other high profile people, including musician Professor Green, cricketer Freddie Flintoff and footballer Rio Ferdinand have helped change attitudes by talking about the personal problems that have affected their mental health.

He also praises grime and hip hop artist Stormzy for speaking out about his depression. Prince William hopes it 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", adding: "There may be a time and a place for the 'stiff upper lip', but not at the expense of your health."

This subject is a key issue for Prince William, his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry who have established the Heads Together charity to help banish the stigma surrounding mental health.

Prince William says he wants his children to grow up in a society with different values. "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 says.

Male suicides

The Prince says the tipping point for him came when he served as a helicopter pilot with the East Anglian Air Ambulance. His first call out was to a male suicide. This led him to the "appalling" realisation that suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK.

According to Prince Harry: "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."

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