Hannah McKay - WPA Pool/Getty Images
Hannah McKay - WPA Pool/Getty Images
Prince Harry is opening up like he never has before.
While we know that the royal is a massive supporter of changing the stigma around mental health—especially with his Heads Together campaign, which he started with Prince William and Kate Middleton—he rarely touches on how the topic has affected him, personally...until now.
Harry joined Bryony Gordon's Mad World where he opened up about his own emotional and mental health struggles, which he says he's been dealing with since his mother, Princess Diana's death 20 years ago. However, he only recently realized that he was hiding from all those struggles for most of those years.
"If you look back to the fact that I lost my mom at the age of 12 on the public platform of which it was, and then everything else that happens with being in the spotlight in this sort of role and the pressures that come with it," Harry explained. "And then going to Afghanistan, and then working in the personal recovering unit with all of the soldiers as well and taking on a lot of their issues. Anybody would like at that and go, 'OK, there must be something wrong with you. You can't be totally normal.'"
He said he would always deny his emotions, noting, "My way of dealing with it was sticking my head in the sand and refusing to ever think about my mom because why would that help. It's only going to make you sad. It's never going to bring her back."
Rather, he spent a majority of his life (into his late twenties) pretending everything was OK. "I was a typical 20, 25, 28-year-old running around going, 'Life is great', or 'Life is fine.'"
Today, he acknowledges the negative effects running away from his emotions has had on him.
"I can safely say that losing my mom at the age of 12 and therefore shutting down all of my emotions for the last 20 years has had a quite serious effect on not only my personal life but also my work as well," he revealed. "It was only three years ago that, from the support around and my brother and other people around who started to say, 'You need to deal with this. It's not normal to think that nothing's affecting you.'"
He continued, "I started to have a few conversations and actually all of a sudden all of this grief that I have never processed started to come to the forefront and I was like, 'There is actually a lot of stuff here that I need to deal with.'"
He said he began working on his own emotional and mental health at the age of 28, and by the time he turned 30, he finally felt like he had a handle on himself and could converse with others who'd suffered through grief.
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"It's a fascinating process," he said. "It's all part of a conversation, being able to talk to a parent or stranger or sibling or colleague."
This is why he also strongly believes in therapy and seeking professional help for mental health awareness. "[Sometimes] I don't actually need your advice I just need you to listen to me," he admitted.
Other than therapy, as Harry continued to look into his own grief, he took up running and boxing to help he unleash some of his emotions in a physical manner. "Exercise really is the key," he said. "Exercise is a simple solution. Instead of giving up, giving up, giving up. How about taking up?"
More than anything, however, Harry got through his own struggles is by helping others and assisting in "normalizing the conversation" about mental health and mental fitness. His biggest goal was to remind everyone that "we're not robots," and mental fitness is something that unites all of us.
"What my mother believed in is if the fact that you are in a position of privilege or a position of responsibility and if you can put your name to something that you genuinely believe in…then you can smash any stigma you want."