A CHARITY has hailed Prince Harry for changing attitudes about mental health after revealing that he sought counselling to come to terms with the death of his mother.
Harry, who was 12 years old when Princess Diana was killed in a car crash, said it was not until his late 20s that he processed his grief.
In an interview with an English newspaper, the 32-year-old said he spent nearly 20 years “not thinking” about her death He said he eventually got help after two years of “total chaos”.
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Mental health charity Mind described his decision to speak out as “a true turning point”, while campaign group Time to Change said he “will have helped change attitudes” by sharing his experiences.
Harry admitted that shutting down his emotions after losing his mother had “a quite serious effect on not only my personal life but my work as well”.
He said: “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?
“(I thought) it’s only going to make you sad, it’s not going to bring her back. So from an emotional side, I was like ‘right, don’t ever let your emotions be part of anything’.
“So I was a typical 20, 25, 28-year-old running around going ‘life is great’, or ‘life is fine’ and that was exactly it.
“And then (I) started to have a few conversations and actually all of a sudden, all of this grief that I had never processed started to come to the forefront and I was like, there is actually a lot of stuff here that I need to deal with.”
He said he eventually sought help after his brother told him he needed to deal with his feelings.
He told how boxing “saved” him by helping him deal with aggression after he came close to “punching someone” when he was 28.
Paul Farmer, chief executive of mental health charity Mind, said: “Prince Harry speaking so candidly is a true turning point that shows that as a society we must no longer adopt a ‘stiff upper lip’ attitude and that we need to talk openly about mental health, something that affects us all directly.”
Sue Baker, director of Time to Change, said: “Prince Harry sharing his experiences of mental health issues and the counselling he sought as a result of losing his mother will have helped change attitudes, not just at home but also overseas.
“It was a dream of mine 20 years ago that we’d see the royal family join sports people, music stars and politicians and business leaders as well as everyday people in sharing their mental health experiences.”