Once upon a time a Prince and a footballer battled the big taboo…
The Prince’s Part
The Heads Together campaign is doing so much to challenge the stigma and taboos around mental health, however a few weeks ago when Prince Harry was honest about his own personal struggle, following the loss of his mother, in an interview with The Telegraph, he gave universal permission to talk about difficult times and ask for help, especially to men. His moving revelation kicked off an important public dialogue about mental health issues and the need and importance of talking about feelings, especially after major life events, such as the loss of a parent or partner. It was heart-warming to hear Prince William support him, saying “No more stiff upper lip over mental health”.
The Footballer’s Contribution
Equally impactful, given the importance of football in our culture, was Rio Ferdinand speaking in a BBC documentary about the loss of his wife and exploring what he and his kids needed. He started from a place of not seeing the need for therapy and talking about things, but gradually saw the potential value in support and talking about feelings, and to realise it is important to allow yourself to grieve.
I’ve noticed on social media that this National dialogue has continued at a local level, for example on Maidenhead Business Girls Network with over 2000 female entrepreneurs, some of us have been sharing how mental health issues have affected or affect our lives, from anxiety, PSTD (Post traumatic stress disorder) to depression. Facing up to, managing and in some cases resolving mental health issues takes incredible strength and courage, and this has been overlooked in our more patriarchal society where I believe there is often fear or mistrust about things that seem to sit outside the rational. I say seem, as we have known for years about emotional intelligence and within this rational approach that emotions give us valuable information and are essential in decision making.
The great news is that we seem to have reached a critical shift in the way mental health issues are being viewed; it is starting to be seen as a normal need, rather than a weakness, to talk about and work through feelings and life events.