Prince Harry has revealed that his time in Afghanistan was the trigger that helped him deal with his mother’s death.
‘Once I plucked my head out of the sand post-Afghan – yes, it had a huge life-changing moment for me as well’, he told Forces TV.
‘I have got plenty of issues. None of them really relate to Afghanistan but Afghanistan was the thing that triggered everything else and the process.
‘If you lose your mum at the age of 12 you have got to deal with it. The idea that 20 years later I still hadn’t really… that 15, 17 years later I still hadn’t dealt with it. Afghan was the moment where I was like, “Right, deal with it”.’
Since undertaking two front-line tours of Afghanistan and serving for 10 years, the Prince has been using his status as a royal to help others battling mental health illness.
Harry undertook two front-line tours of Afghanistan
Speaking about how sharing his own issues has helped him heal, he said: ‘I was like, right, “You are Prince Harry. You can do this. As long as you’re not a complete t*t then you are going to be able to get that support because you’ve got the credibility of 10 years’ service and therefore you can really make a difference”.
‘Actually going through Invictus and speaking to all the guys about their issues has really healed me and helped me.
‘Sharing the stories and being amongst people who you know that when they tell you the issues they are having it is like, “Yeah, been there done that. Yep yep yep yep yep”.
‘And you go through all these lists and you are like wow, so actually we have got a lot more in common than would meet the eye.
‘Then people suddenly jump to conclusions and say, “Oh, it must be Afghanistan.” No. So many people who suffer from depression, anxiety, alcoholism, it can be from when you were younger and Afghanistan is the trigger to bring it all to light and to deal with that stuff.’
In the interview to publicise the forthcoming Invictus Games, a Paralympic-style event for injured service personnel, the Prince also described in detail what it was like to suffer panic attacks, which often struck when he attended royal engagements.
Prince Harry often speaks out on mental health with his brother William and sister-in-law Kate
‘When you can get your own head and self back on the right path, the amount of people you can help is unbelievable, because you can tell the signs in people. You can see it in their eyes. You can see it in them, their reactions’, Harry said.
‘In my case, suit and tie, every single time I was in any room with loads of people, which is quite often, I was just pouring with sweat, like heart beating – boom, boom, boom, boom – and literally just like a washing machine.
‘I was like, “Oh my God, get me out of here now. Oh, hang on, I can’t get out of here, I have got to just hide it”‘, he said.
While being interviewed by Dave Henson, a double amputee and former Invictus competitor, Harry reiterated that society needs to be more open about mental health, and everyone has issues they have to deal with.
‘You go through all that stuff and then you met other lads who are on a similar journey or the similarities are there. You help yourself so you can help others. That is hugely powerful’, he said.
‘So many people are, you know, like slightly mental. Awesome! We are, we are all mental and we have all got to deal with our stuff.
‘Rather than running around at 50 per cent capacity, imagine if we could run around at 100 per cent capacity. Imagine what we could achieve.’