Life Mental Health

Monday 29 May 2017

Prince William: No more stiff upper lip, our children must talk about feelings

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge and Prince George of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge at a children's party for Military families during the Royal Tour of Canada
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge and Prince George of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge at a children's party for Military families during the Royal Tour of Canada
Kate Middleton and Princess Charlotte, left, Pippa Middleton, centre, Prince William and Prince Harry, right
Britain's Prince William and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, arrive at the Easter Sunday service in Windsor Castle, in Windsor, Britain, April 16, 2017. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
Princes William (left) and Harry bow their heads as their mother’s coffin is taken out of Westminster Abbey after her funeral service in September 1997. Prince Harry has revealed he sought counselling to deal with his grief. Picture: PA

Hannah Furness

Britain's Prince William yesterday 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.

William, whose brother Prince Harry disclosed 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."

William said that he and Kate wanted their children, George and Charlotte, to grow up "feeling able to talk about their emotions and feelings".

Prince Harry smiles with his mother Princess Diana while Prince William looks over a balcony at Buckingham Palace. Photo: REUTERS
Prince Harry smiles with his mother Princess Diana while Prince William looks over a balcony at Buckingham Palace. Photo: REUTERS

Emotions

Harry yesterday spoke of the difficulties he endured after shutting down his emotions following the death of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales.

He said William 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 a men's mental health magazine, William 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 Harry's podcast was aired, William 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.

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."

Harry (32) was roundly praised yesterday after speaking 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 UK 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.

"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."

Irish Independent

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