Prince Harry continues his fight to normalize the struggle with mental health that millions go through daily. The 32-year-old royal sat down with the Telegraph‘s Bryony Gordon on the first episode of her podcast, Mad World.
Princess Diana, Princess of Wales, died as a result of injuries sustained during a car crash in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel near Paris, France in 1997. Prince Harry was 12 at the time.
As Prince Harry had to deal with his grief on such a public stage, he spent many years trying to outrun his grief. As he told Bryony during the podcast, he learned to deflect questions about his mental health.
“I’ve spent most of my life saying ‘I’m fine.’ Fine is so much better than having to go into the details…and most of us aren’t up for going that deep. So today I’m OK. I’m a little bit nervous. I’m a little bit tight in the chest but otherwise fine.”
The Heads Together Campaign
Prince Harry, along with his mental health charity Heads Together, which he founded with Prince William and Kate Middleton, champion the cause against the stigma that people who struggle with mental health deal with every day. The campaign works to connect various organizations of homeless charities and emergency response teams to deal with the impact that mental health problems have on everyday people.
Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, spoke to a crowd last year about Heads Together.
“Through our work with young people, emergency response, homeless charities, and with veterans, we have seen time and time again that unresolved mental health problems lie at the heart of some of our greatest social challenges. Heads Together wants to get people talking. The more we talk about mental health, the more normal the topic becomes, and the more we feel able to open up and seek support.”
Learning to Come to Grips With His Past
Prince Harry has said that his 20s were the result of him running from the grief he felt about losing his mother. The young royal spent much of his 20s embroiled in minor scandal after minor scandal. Famously, there was his naked romp in Las Vegas in 2012 and his donning of a swastika at a costume party in 2005.
“I can safely say that losing my mom at the age of 12 and therefore shutting down all of my emotions for the last 20 years has had a quite serious effect on not only my personal life but also my work as well. It was only three years ago that, from the support around and my brother and other people around who started to say, ‘You need to deal with this. It’s not normal to think that nothing’s affecting you.'”
He began dealing with his own mental and emotional health struggles when he turned 28, and through two years of therapy, learned to speak to others about grief. He recognized that healing is an ongoing process; that it’s part of learning to be part of a conversation, “being able to talk to a parent or stranger or sibling or colleague.”
As a way of coping with his grief, Prince Harry started taking up physical pursuits including running and boxing. He told the podcast that he was already on the verge of punching someone, so punching someone who was in pads was great.
“Exercise really is the key. Exercise is a simple solution. Instead of giving up, giving up, giving up. How about taking up?”
Prince Harry strives to continue work that his mother started and to honor her memory. His ongoing efforts to keep the conversation going about mental health struggles reminds the world that people are not robots and mental fitness is something that unites everyone.
“What my mother believed in is if the fact that you are in a position of privilege or a position of responsibility and if you can put your name to something that you genuinely believe in…then you can smash any stigma you want.”
[Featured Image by Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP Images]