Prince Harry: Mental health and climate change are two most pressing social issues

By Iain Leggat
Friday, 28th May 2021, 9:34 am
Prince Harry: Mental health and climate change are two most pressing social issues (Photo by VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images)

Mental health and climate change are “the two most pressing issues” society is facing, the Duke of Sussex said.

Harry was speaking in The Me You Can’t See: A Path Forward, which was released on Apple TV in the early hours of Friday, in which the issues of self-harm and suicide were broached.

Earlier in the docuseries, Harry said he was “somewhat ashamed” of the way he dealt with Meghan sharing her suicidal thoughts before a charity event at the Royal Albert Hall in London in 2019.

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Listening and being part of the conversion is the best first step

Harry picked up on a point raised by Jo Robinson, head of suicide prevention research at Orygen, about the importance of talking openly about suicide and self-harm.

Such communication helps give voice to something that’s “terribly distressing and terribly frightening for them to talk about”, she said.

The duke said: “I think it’s so interesting because so many people are afraid of being on the receiving end of that conversation (about suicide) because they don’t feel as though they have the right tools to be able to give the right advice but what you’re saying is you’re there.

“Listen, because listening and being part of that conversation is, without a doubt, the best first step that you can take.”

Earlier in the show, in a conversation with co-producer of the series Oprah Winfrey, he said: “I believe even more that climate change and mental health are two of the most pressing issues that we’re facing and, in many ways, they are linked.

“The connecting line is about our collective well-being and when our collective well-being erodes, that effects our ability to be caretakers of ourselves, of our communities and of our planet ultimately,” the 36-year-old added.

“We have to create a more supportive culture for each other where challenges don’t have to live in the dark, where vulnerability is healthy and encouraged and, of course, where physical and mental health can be treated equally because they are one.”

Robin Williams son speaks about public grief

Robin Williams' son Zak also featured in the documentary, speaking of the difficulties of grieving a family member who was in the public eye.

The four-time Oscar winning actor, died by suicide in 2014 with tributes paid from across the entertainment world.

Zak said: “From my end it was really hard to separate initially the process of privately grieving versus sharing the grieving with the general public.

“I really didn’t get a chance to really focus on the private grieving process until a year and a half after my dad passed away.”

The duke, whose mother Diana, Princess of Wales, died in 1997, said: “I think we have a lot of shared experience when you talk about that … when you see so many people around the world grieving for someone they feel as though they knew them better than you did in a weird way because you’re unable to grieve yourself.

“It’s like … how are you grieving more for someone who was my parent and I’m unable to grieve myself?”

Anyone in need of confidential emotional support yourself can call Samaritans free on 116 123 or email them at [email protected]