Prince William Opens Up About His Own Mental Health Struggles As A First Responder

Prince William, Kate Middleton, and Prince Harry
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In January 2006, Prince William joined the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, kicking off his military career. Years later, in 2014, the Duke of Cambridge took on a full-time role as an air ambulance pilot, a position that exposed him to a lot of raw experiences and, consequently, emotions.

“I took a lot home without realizing it,” he said at a mental health event in Bristol, as reported by People. “You see [so] many sad things every day that you think life is like that.”

The Tuesday event, called Mental Health at Work, was hosted by two charities: Heads Together – which Prince William co-founded with his wife Catherine and Prince Harry and unveiled at the event – and Mind Charity. The 36-year-old royal and second in the line of succession to the British throne addressed the need for workplace well-being in the United Kingdom by sharing his own experiences with stress and emotional overload during his time as a first responder.

“You’re always dealing with despair and sadness and injury. The attrition builds up and you never really have the opportunity to offload anything if you’re not careful.”

The British royal added that many people “suffer in silence” because they don’t feel that help is available. He added that the only way to fix it is to take responsibility and show people that help is available, Channel 24 stated. Prince William said that this reality is particularly poignant for first responders, noting that he was “stunned” to learn that just 2 percent of workers feel comfortable talking to their employer’s human resources department about mental health.

“You’re human and a lot of people forget the battles, you have shut it off to do the job — but ultimately something pierces the armor,” Prince William said, according to the People.

To add to the conversation, paramedic Dawn Anderson, who was at the event, told Prince William that she suffered from two episodes in 2011. Anderson admitted that she covered up her episodes for fear of losing her job. She was later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, as per the People report.

“I’ve always held the belief that everybody is susceptible to mental health problems, and I wouldn’t expect even a member of the royal family to be exempt from that,” she added. “To hear him admit that just goes to prove how good it is to speak about these things and how positive that can be. And it goes towards removing that stigma about mental health and to speaking up to and owning up to it.”