Celebrities add their voices to mental health conversation


Former England cricket captain Andrew Flintoff, rapper Professor Green and comic Ruby Wax are some of the stars talking publicly about their mental health battles in a series of new films.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry have released the 10 films that feature celebrities and ordinary people describing the life-changing conversations where they opened up about problems such as anxiety or depression.

The royal trio commissioned the films - directed by leading figures such as My Beautiful Launderette creator Stephen Frears - as part of their Heads Together mental health campaign to encourage the nation to talk about their psychological issues.

William, Kate and Harry said: "Since we launched Heads Together last May, we have seen time and time again that shattering stigma on mental health starts with simple conversations.

"When you realise that mental health problems affect your friends, neighbours, children and spouses, the walls of judgment and prejudice around these issues begin to fall.

"And we all know that you cannot resolve a mental health issue by staying silent.

"Attitudes to mental health are at a tipping point. We hope these films show people how simple conversations can change the direction of an entire life."

In one film, Green chatted to Flintoff about the moment he broke down while speaking about his father's suicide to his grandmother during the filming of a documentary and how he was "petrified" at being seen at his "most vulnerable" but the conversation changed everything.

The former cricketer, who has spoken of his battle with depression, said: "The hardest thing for me initially was talking. I'm not a big talker. I'm from the north of England, from a working-class family. We don't talk about our feelings."

Also featured in the films are Tony Blair's former spin doctor Alastair Campbell chatting to his partner Fiona Millar about his well-documented fight against depression.

Broadcaster Mark Austin speaks to his daughter, Maddy, about how she dealt with anorexia, while comic Ruby Wax and her husband, Ed Bye, discuss her mental illness.

Heads Together has commissioned a YouGov poll which found nearly half (46%) of 5,003 adults, questioned in February, have talked recently about mental health, with a quarter chatting about their own psychological problems.

Eight out of 10 people who have talked about their own mental health found these conversations helpful.

Green, real name Stephen Manderson, who suffers from anxiety, made a successful 2015 documentary Professor Green: Suicide And Me, which highlighted the high rate of male suicide in the UK.

Speaking ahead of the launch of the films, he said it was important for public figures to be honest about their issues.

He added: "The problem with a lot of mental health issues - depression, anxiety, anything - is it becomes insular and you feel like you're the only one suffering with it and because you don't talk to someone about it, you don't ever realise you're not.

"So if I was to have heard someone like (American rapper) Biggie who I idolised open up and talk about something that he went through like that...it would have made it more okay."