Struggling with mental illness

Written on 18 Apr 2017

How incredibly heartening it was to hear Prince Harry’s interview with Fleet Street journalist Briony Gordon about seeking professional help to address the mental health difficulties he has experienced since his mother died.

In one major stroke he has demonstrated that mental health issues can affect anyone of any age and from any background and that it really is OK to admit it, to talk about it and in so doing to put it on a par with any physical health issue. A brave action to take though and I salute him in doing this as it can’t help but detract a bit from his fun-loving image and his active service as a soldier.

Harry admitted that he sought counselling after enduring two years of “total chaos” while still struggling in his late twenties to come to terms with the death of his mother and at one stage took up boxing as a channel to giving vent to the pent-up aggression he was feeling, at one stage being “on the verge of punching someone”.

It's hardly surprising he has struggled with his mental health after losing his mother at the age of 12, (probably the highest profile woman in the world at the time and dying in very questionable circumstances), growing up under the intense scrutiny of the world’s press and perhaps not having had people around him at that time with the necessary expertise he needed to be able to process his loss.

A Prince he may be – but he is human just like the rest of us and he is now one of the one in four of us who experience a significant mental health issue in our lifetime.

The difference is that as one of the highest profile people in the UK, he has had the courage to speak out and tell the world that such issues are normal, can be experienced by any of us – and indeed can be treated professionally, effectively and with skill and compassion.

Full marks to him and to his brother and and sister-in-law, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who collectively have set up Heads Together, a charity which promotes good mental well-being. As Heads Together explain : “Too often, people feel afraid to admit that they are struggling with their mental health. This fear of prejudice and judgement stops people from getting help and can destroy families and end lives.”

Well Harry has shown the world that whoever you are, whatever your station in life, you don’t need to be afraid of that prejudice and judgement – and that it really is OK to admit that you are experiencing a problem and that you need help.

Thank you Harry for helping us all to think more deeply about mental health.

If you've been affected by the topic that I've covered in this blog post, and would like to discuss your feelings, you can leave a public comment below. Alternatively, if you'd like to communicate with me on a one-to-one basis about any issues you'd like to discuss further, you can either email me or call me on 07946 517967.