Prince William Reminds Us that Mental Health is as Serious as Physical Health

Taking a progressive direction, the Royal Family has been front and centre of mental health-related causes as of late.

Yesterday, the Duke of Cambridge spoke out about the lingering mental health stigma in a powerful speech, expressing his desire to “normalize” the “great taboo” of mental health (despite undeniable progress, sadly, that’s what it remains).

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in London on Monday night.

At the Guild of Health Writers conference at Chandos House in London, Prince William said mental health should be viewed in the same light as physical health – something that’s long overdue both across the pond and in North America. He highlighted the fact that, until recently, people with anxiety were considered to be “weak,” and that admitting one’s struggle in coping with it was often associated with failing.

“Successful, strong people don’t suffer like that, do they.  But of course – we all do. It’s just that few of us speak about it,” he said.

Of course, by now, most of us know that all too well. While the stigma continues to erode, one on five Canadians will experience mental health issues in his or her lifetime.

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As for the Duke of Cambridge, he said that his passion for mental health-related issues began with his work as an Air Ambulance pilot.

“It was suicide, a subject that is so often hidden. The suicide rate among young men in this country is an appalling stain on our society,” said the prince, citing a telling statistic. “Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 40 in this country. Not cancer, not knife crime, not road deaths – suicide.”

He said that if any of these things caused as many deaths as suicide does, that there would be a “national outcry.” Yet, there isn’t, likely thanks to the fact that the stigma persists and the general public is ill-informed.

“There has only ever been silence. And this has to stop. This silence is killing good people,” the prince said. He highlighted a practice that every workplace should adopt as well, saying that in his work in Search and Rescue and as an Air Ambulance pilot, he and his colleagues have been encouraged to admit when they feel “overwhelmed or unable to cope.”

“This should be the norm,” he said.

Amen to that. While we’re on the topic, more companies may also want to consider following the lead of Manulife, which recently increased its employee mental health benefits by a tenfold.

At very least, we need to stop pretending that mental health isn’t as serious as physical health. The reality is, most of us know first-hand that it is.

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