You may have forgotten, but earlier this year, the British press went full-throttle against the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. There were several major critical stories about their laziness, and Will and Kate honestly didn’t do much to push back on it. One of the most interesting stories was about how William barely works part-time at the East Anglian Air Ambulance, despite using that job as an excuse for why he can’t do more royal work. When William was barely eight months into the EAAA job, sources claimed he was already “bored” and looking for ways to take time off, like the month he took off for Christmas last year. Basically, William barely clocks in twenty hours a week at the EAAA, just enough time for some photo-ops a few times a month, here and there, when he feels like it. I bring this up because William made a speech yesterday for Heads Together, the mental health charity/whatever that he started with Harry and Kate. William talked about how he knows how work can feel “overwhelming.”
Prince William took his mental health campaign to the workplace on Monday.
“Work, as we all know, can at times be a source of great fulfillment, growth and fun, but also at times a significant source of stress sometimes — if we are honest, to the point of its being overwhelming,” he told a meeting of the Heads Together campaign, the mental-health initiative he kicked off with wife Princess Kate and brother Prince Harry in April.
“Catherine, Harry and I have been campaigning on this issue for only a few months now, but what we have observed already is that when we get our heads together when we talk and listen to family, to friends and colleagues, we share the load; we reduce the problem; we realize we are not alone and we break down the barriers that prevent us from getting the help we need,” he said. “It is really that simple: a problem shared is a problem halved.”
He praised businesses that had made mental health a priority while urging others to do the same. At his work with the East Anglian Air Ambulance Service — where he has spoken previously about the “sad, dark” moments he faces —he says they are supportive.
“As a pilot working with an air ambulance charity, I have seen first-hand how work can affect individuals’ mental health. But I have also seen how an employer can create an environment where it is as unremarkable to talk about feeling a bit ‘down’ as it is to admit to having a cold,” he told the gathering at Unilever’s headquarters in London. (The company is a founding partner of Heads Together.)
“All of the air ambulance team know that we can get help for what is going on in our heads if we need it. We know where to turn, as practical help is well sign-posted, and we know that no one will judge us if we do admit to difficulties. Mental health exists just as physical health exists. It is no big deal.”
I’m not mocking the idea that people in stressful jobs need to feel like they can talk about their mental health. I’m not saying that at all. Doctors, first responders, firefighters, police officers, and anyone in a stressful job should feel like they can talk about mental health without being stigmatized. And if that was William’s message, I would be all for it. But when he tries to personalize it, that’s when I’m left wondering if he feels “overwhelmed” by the two or three shifts he works a week (if that). Or is William “overwhelmed” by the handful of royal appearances he makes a month? Is the message “let’s not stigmatize those with mental health issues”? Or is the message “Normal Bill gets stressed out like all of the normal blokes”?
Photos courtesy of WENN.