Prince William has urged Britain to take special care of our heroic NHS and care staff to ensure they are not left “broken” by the coronavirus crisis.
The Duke of Cambridge revealed his fears over the mental health toll of medics and carers battling on the front line every day to defeat the virus.
William, 37, said it was right that the nation has come together for the weekly Clap for Carers and be “hailed as superstars, and brave, and wonderful” but they must also know “it’s okay not to be okay”.
The royal said: “We have this global pandemic which is unprecedented, it’s scary, it’s making a lot of people anxious and uncertain.
“I think the country as a whole is going to need a lot more support when it comes to their mental health.”
In a new documentary, ‘Football, Prince William and our Mental Health’, airing tonight at 8.05pm on BBC One, camera crews followed the Duke for a year during his campaign to open up a national conversation around mental health.
William added: “We made the NHS frontline staff – rightly – heroes.
“But in doing so, we once again, give them the burden that we gave our soldiers fighting in the war, where everyone was so grateful and wanted to show their appreciation as to their fighting for their freedoms and everything.
“And I think we’ve got to be very careful with the language that we use.
“They should rightly be hailed as superstars, and brave, and wonderful staff; but I’m very conscious from a mental health point of view that we don’t alienate some of them.
“Where they feel that once they have this hero tag, they can no longer shake that, and therefore they can’t ask for support, they have to be this strong pillar of strength, when actual fact what we need them to be is examples of positive mental health, doing the job, beating this pandemic, helping and caring for so many people, but also looking after themselves so that they come through this in one piece and we’re not having broken NHS staff all over the country”
William – father to Prince George, six, Princess Charlotte, five, and Prince Louis, two – also spoke about how becoming a father brought back the raw emotion he felt when his mother Princess Diana tragically died in a car crash in 1997.
In further conversations with ex-professional footballers including Joe Hart and Frank Lampard, William also opened up about his feelings growing up in the spotlight and questions whether the British mentality of a “stiff upper lip” is relevant in the modern world.
As part of his work during the Covid-19 outbreak William has also urged front line workers to seek help for their mental wellbeing after an official hotline received calls amounting to just 0.1% of NHS staff.
In the documentary he says: “I am still concerned about what I’m hearing from the frontline, which is that certain staff still find it very difficult at the NHS to talk about their mental health and to be open about it, for a lot of reasons.
“But I am concerned that one of the areas that we really need to hit hard with the mental health support is the frontline.”
For the first time, leading mental health charities are working together in the scheme called Our Frontline, providing round the clock support to the 1.4million NHS staff and millions of Britain’s key workers.
The Prince added: “It’s going to reach so many people in so many different ways that I think we really have got to be prepared for a very different mind-set for mental health going forward, and I’m just really conscious that the system doesn’t fall over, and I think we’ve got to plug the gaps and make sure that, for what it looks like, certain hospitals around the country have very good support networks for their staff and mental health, and others don’t, and I want to make sure we can support the hospitals that are struggling to prioritise their mental health for their staff.”
The documentary Football, Prince William and our Mental Health airs tonight (THURSDAY) at 8.05pm on BBC One and is available and is available on BBC iPlayer.