Rob Barnett: Royal boost to mental health cause

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Members of the British royal family talked openly this month about their experiences of grief. Rob Barnett shares the story, and talks about what this means for the person on the street.

Prince Harry

Royals William, Kate and Harry speaking openly about mental health has perhaps done more to promote the issue in the UK than anything before.

Prince Harry was the first to speak out in an interview with The Telegraph this month. Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, was quick to follow suit along with his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge. The couple spoke together on Radio 1.

All three attended Sunday’s London Marathon, representing Heads Together – the marathon’s charity of the year. Before the race Heads Together produced an interview of the trio speaking about mental health, including how the princes tried to cope with the loss of their mother Diana, Princess of Wales, 20 years ago.

Before William and Kate’s contribution, Harry’s alone drew praise from many mental health experts. The president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Sir Simon Wessley, said the prince had achieved more in terms of communicating mental health issues in a 25-minute interview than he had in his 25-year career.

So what does all this mean for the people of Sheffield?

Hopefully it means speaking about mental health is even more socially acceptable than ever, something Sheffield Flourish is playing a part in like by telling Carol Kallend’s story about dealing with loneliness.

Harry speaking to The Telegraph and William and Kate speaking to Radio 1 ensured the message reached a wide cross-section of society. Actually, the fact the royals spoke about the subject at all blew the subject wide open at home and abroad.

As someone who has seen family and friends experience a range of mental health issues, and have experienced some myself, I am delighted that more and more people are dealing with their issues.

It is admirable that William and Harry do not want people today to suffer in the same way that they did in trying to deal with the death of their mother at such young ages.

Hopefully people facing all sorts of mental health issues will have more support and confidence about speaking out than ever before as a consequence of William, Kate and Harry’s contributions. 

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