In 1997 the world was shocked to hear of the death of Princess Diana. Often referred to as “the peoples princess” she was certainly an iconic woman.
Diana left behind two young and adoring sons, Harry (then 12) and William (then 15). Grief is a difficult process for any adult or child especially when its a parent. Harry recently opened up about how it took him nearly two decades to finally seek professional help to address his grief after experiencing anxiety during royal engagements.
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph he completely “shut down all his emotions” after losing his mother despite his brother William urging him to seek help.
“My way of dealing with it was sticking my head in the sand, refusing to ever think about my mum, because why would that help? Its only going to make you sad, its not going to bring her back.” -Prince Harry on Mad World (podcast)
In the interview Harry speaks openly about suffering from anxiety and coming close to a breakdown, he said he decided to talk about his past in the hope it would encourage people to break the stigma surrounding mental health. He revealed he turned to boxing as an outlet for his frustration after close friends said it would be “a really good way of letting out aggression”.
“The experience i have had is that once you start talking about it, you realise that actually youre part of quite a big club.”
On eventually seeking help Harry noted “It’s all about timing. William kept saying ‘this is not right, you need to talk to someone about stuff, it’s ok.’ I cant encourage people enough to just have that conversation because you will be surprised firstly, how much support you get and secondly, how many people literally are longing for you to come out.”
Harry works with Heads Together to highlight the importance of speaking out and ending the stigma that surrounds mental health.
“I know there is huge merit in talking about your issues and the only thing about keeping it quiet is that its only ever going to make it worse.”
Heads together is a campaign that is spearheaded by the Royal Family. They aim to change the national conversation on mental health and wellbeing, tackle stigma, raise awareness, and provide vital help for people with mental health difficulties.
Since Harry spoke out about his personal struggles a number of mental health charities have seen a surge in the number of people contacting them. For example CALM, a mental health charity aimed at men, saw website traffic double after the Prince spoke out.
It’s estimated that 1 in 5 children will experience the death of someone close to them by age 18. Though Harry’s reaction to losing his mum may seem unhealthy given the long term damage to his mental health, it is incredibly common. Sometimes, loved ones will avoid talking about the loss in fear of upsetting the child and this can lead to feelings of isolation which could be why many children won’t talk about it until they reach adulthood.
Harry has confessed that he is now in a “good place” and we couldn’t be happier for him!