Tuesday 24 September 2019

Dr Christian Jessen hails Prince Harry for reducing mental health stigma

The TV doctor was at the star-studded Battersea Dogs and Cats Home’s 10th anniversary Collars and Coats ball.

Dr Christian Jessen: Harry talking about mental health was a turning point (Ian West/PA)
Dr Christian Jessen: Harry talking about mental health was a turning point (Ian West/PA)

By Alex Green, Press Association Entertainment Reporter

TV doctor Christian Jessen has hailed the Duke of Sussex for his work in highlighting male mental health issues.

The star of Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies said that more “big names” needed to come forward and talk about mental health.

Dr Christian stressed the importance of sports stars, notably footballers, speaking about depression and other mental illnesses in the public arena.

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The Duke of Sussex has been praised for talking openly about mental health issues (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Speaking at the Collars And Coats ball for the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home at Battersea Evolution in London, he told the Press Association: “I think we are gradually starting to talk about (mental health).

“It would be good to see more and more big names coming forward, footballers for example, coming forward.

“The turning point for me was when Prince Harry came forward and was talking about his problems and the fact he needed help when his mum died.

“It’s such a cliche, I know, but it’s like when his mother sat on the bed of someone with HIV. That was a turning point in HIV.”

Dr Christian added: “So, he follows in her footsteps with mental health.

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Model David Gandy arrives for the Battersea Dogs And Cats Home Collars And Coats gala ball (Victoria Jones/PA)

“It’s not happening enough but it is happening, thank goodness.”

In 1987 Diana, Princess of Wales held the hand of an unidentified HIV/Aids patient at a London hospital, transforming public attitudes towards the virus.

Dr Christian also highlighted the “many” health benefits of owning a dog while at the event, which also saw stars including Jennifer Saunders, Amanda Abbington, David Gandy, Kirsty Gallacher and Jeff Brazier walk the red carpet along with a number of dogs.

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Jennifer Saunders makes a friend at the gala ball (Victoria Jones/PA)

He said: “There are lots of studies into the effects on anxiety and pressure, especially with kids that have behavioural issues.

“There are even studies into dogs now that can detect malaria, from smelling sweat, which is mind-bogglingly extraordinary as us humans have taken hundreds of years to even start detecting it.

“Dogs can do it at a sniff.”

Dr Christian added: “That puts us in our place quite nicely.”

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