William warns about mental health pressures on ‘hero’ NHS staff
The Duke of Cambridge has warned the Covid-19 outbreak could leave a legacy of “broken NHS staff” who felt they could not reach out for help.
William said frontline doctors, nurses and other workers battling the coronavirus pandemic have rightly been hailed as “heroes” for their efforts.
But he urged caution, saying the praise could alienate some who may feel they “have to be this strong pillar of strength” and cannot ask for help to support their mental health.
The duke has spent recent weeks holding video calls with hospital staff, care workers and others on the frontline and said he was concerned certain staff were still finding it difficult to talk about their problems at the NHS, for a variety of reasons.
In a video clip, shown on the BBC’s One Show, the duke said: “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 and Kate have pledged to make supporting the mental health of frontline workers battling coronavirus their “top priority”.
The couple’s Royal Foundation is backing the Our Frontline initiative which provides round-the-clock mental health support to everyone from teachers and nurses to bus drivers.
The duke also has said there needs to be wider mental health support for the country as the “scary” global pandemic had left many “anxious and uncertain”.
And he called on society to “plug the gaps” where hospitals do not have a good support networks for their staff.
The duke’s comments were recorded during filming for a documentary being shown on the BBC on Thursday evening that looks at the mental health of men through the prism of football.
Football, Prince William And Our Mental Health will be broadcast on Thursday at 8.05pm on BBC One.