Harry hailed as ‘guiding light’ for servicemen facing mental health problems
The Duke of Sussex has been praised for being a “guiding light” for people in the military suffering from mental health problems.
Harry spoke to guests about how he could relate to the experiences of veterans after listening to speakers at a mental health conference for ex-servicemen in London.
The duke, who served two tours of Afghanistan, discussed issues including the long-term effects of military service with several speakers, praising their work and talking of the effects which service can have.
Harry rose to the rank of captain during his 10 years in the Army, first as a forward air controller and then as the pilot in an Apache attack helicopter.
Harry shared his thoughts with Tel Aviv University Professor Zahava Solomon who gave a speech based on her time in the Israel Defence Force.
She said: “He’s really concerned and very interested in the inter-generational effects on the families of soldiers
“He said he could relate to those phenomenal challenges based on his own experience.
“Somebody coming from Britain has the reputation of having the stiff upper lip, and for someone in his position to come forward and say it’s quite normal to be traumatised, is really beneficial.”
Fellow speaker Dr Charles Winstanley, of veterans’ charity Contact, said Harry was “hugely passionate” about the subject and was the “perfect figurehead” to create a dialogue on mental health.
He said: “The duke is helping to address so many issues around mental health in this country.”
Mr Winstanley mentioned the Royal Foundation and Heads Together, two mental health campaigns headed by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, which were “changing the conversation” through their passion and enthusiasm for the subject.
He added: “It’s very much a generational thing and the prince is changing that. Young people are more willing to discuss how they feel and the duke is tapping into that perfectly. Together with his brother they are formidable.”
The conference was held in London’s King’s Centre for Military Health Research which has helped to shape government policy towards military personnel with research into war and health; war and psychiatry; personnel issues and social policy.
Backers of the conference included Contact, a military community mental health coalition which works with veterans and their families to find the right help for issues such as anxiety and depression.
Harry has supported the rehabilitation of wounded veterans and serving personnel in creating the Invictus Games, an international Paralympic style sporting championship for those who have served.
Neil Greenberg, an academic psychiatrist based at Kings College London who attended the conference, said: “In terms of giving credibility to this difficult topic, not only has he spoke on his own personal journey but also he has promoted the ‘it’s OK, not to be OK’ message.
“Having important, successful figures who are willing to be open can be really important, and in that sense he’s a bit of a guiding light.”