Mental illness is finally coming out of the dark days of being swept under the carpet and people suffering in silence. Things are a long way away from perfect but more and more people are seeking help and being able to talk openly about conditions.
This has been helped in no small part by charities like www.mind.org.uk who work to raise a general awareness of this issue. But it is often the celebrities that come out publically to speak about their mental health issues that do more good, and this is certainly the case recently when Princes William and Harry along with Kate launched their Heads Together campaign.
But what is it that prompted them to do this and how has mental health touched them as people and as part of the Royal family as a whole?
The public perception of mental health is, as already mentioned, getting a lot better. Although it is still hard for many people to admit to suffering it is certainly a kinder and more supportive environment. The help available has also improved dramatically. There is a lot of support available through the NHS but there are also a huge number of private practices offering a wide range of services like: https://www.brightonandhovepsychotherapy.com/
These places are not the secretive and highly expensive facilities they once were. They act very much in conjunction with NHS services and can either be a place to go if waiting lists are an issue or perhaps somewhere to follow on from what the NHS started.
Better services coupled with charities and PR are all playing an important role. But for the Royal family is the world as kind? When it comes to leaders are people ready to deal with the idea that you can have a mental health issue and still lead? Certainly the worry surrounding Donald Trump has some foundation if it is true. There are certainly some conditions that are perhaps not conducive to being in charge of an army, but that certainly would not cause issues in day-to-day life. The British Royal family do not lead in the same way a president does so public support for mental health issues is certainly better.
Mental Health History
The Royal family certainly has a history of mental health. However, because of the scarcity of medical knowledge at each point in history it is hard to actually define what conditions may have been present. Certainly Kind George III was considered ‘mad’ but evidence now suggests he actually had a blood disease called porphyria which caused his erratic behaviour. More recently in the 80s it came out that two of the Queen’s cousins had in fact been in an institution since 1941 with no visitors since 1960. The newspapers were told they had died and they were left there. These two sisters in fact suffered from substantial learning difficulties rather than mental health issues as we know it now, but it highlights the secrecy around this kind of thing even in recent history.
In 2017 the Prince gave a very frank and widely celebrated interview telling the world of his 20-year struggle with both anxiety attacks and anger issues. He attributed these issues very much to the death of his mother and mentioned that he felt close to a breakdown numerous times. This frank and honest discussion was an enormous help to millions of people in the UK and further afield. It was partly because the Prince is a very high-standing member of society but also because he is just a person, like the rest of us. It gave people the feeling that underneath it all we are just the same and we all struggle with things no matter how much money we have.
The Charity William, Kate and Harry have set up (https://www.headstogether.org.uk/) is essentially another charity that is raising awareness of mental health issues but it is also a lot more. Having worked in a number of different situations from the emergency services to the battlefield and beyond, it became clear to them that mental health issues were often at the bottom of other problems. The idea behind Heads Together is to not only to give confidence to people to stand up and seek help, talk about their problems and support each other, but also to offer useful advice and tactics to help people cope.
There is no doubt there will have been a number of members of the Royal family who have had issues, and maybe had help but whom were asked to keep it secret. Thankfully, this is no longer the case and hopefully they can be a family others look to for support in these matters.
With musicians, actors and other famous people all ‘going public’ we can all look forward to a world where mental health is not stigmatised and where it can be treated more efficiently! Groups like www.wearehummingbird.com are working hard in small ways to bring solutions and solidarity to sufferers alongside the high-profile people, charities and celebs.