Prince Harry

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Prince Harry says that while nowadays "there is now greater understanding, compassion and kindness" for people who open about their struggles, more must be done to "make conversations about mental health as common place as those about physical health."

The 32-year-old royal made his comments in a speech at the Leeds Leads: Encouraging Happy Young Minds event Thursday.

Mental health awareness is a subject close to his heart. Harry had earlier this year admitted to undergoing counseling to cope with the loss of mother Princess Diana. He, brother Prince William and sister-in-law Kate Middleton have long supported the Heads Together charity, which aims to end stigmas about mental health. The three cheered on runners competing on behalf of the group at the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon in April.

"Since the London Marathon two months ago, I have spoken to many people who now feel able to reach out to family, friends and colleagues and discuss what they have been feeling," Harry said in his speech. "But what has struck me most is the number of people I've met, who have direct experience of mental health challenges, either themselves or those close to them. So many of these stories could have been very different if awareness was better and help had been sought sooner." 

"I cannot tell you how pleased William, Catherine and I am that the dial seems to have shifted and that there is now greater understanding, compassion and kindness for anyone who opens up about their struggles," he said. "But let's not kid ourselves that the job is done—there is much, much more that we can do at every level to make conversations about mental health as common place as those about physical health. For example, we need to better equip our young people with the tools they need to cope with this increasingly complex and fast moving world we live in."

Harry said he recently read that "young people check their phones at least 150 times per day."

"I'm sure we could all be more effective and efficient if we took a moment to process our thoughts rather than rushing from one thing to the next," he said. 

Harry praised the city of Leeds and the Leeds Community Foundation for supporting organizations that have helped people who are suffering from domestic abuse and stresses of life and school, as well as support members of the LGBT community and caregivers.

"If we invest in supporting our young people now, they will be better placed to succeed in all areas of their lives from work to family and in their communities," he said. "I want to congratulate you all on what you have achieved so far and encourage you to redouble your efforts—in the years to come it will be well worth the investment."

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