The royal is shining a much needed light on the mental health crisis
Prince Harry is no stranger to the harsh public eye. Over the years he’s made more than a few mistakes that made their way to the front pages of tabloids and lived up to his party boy reputation. But now, Prince is both changing his image and sharing with the world the very deep struggles he faced following his mother’s tragic death.
“I sort of buried my head in the sand for many, many years,” he said during a 30-minute interview with London's Daily Telegraph for its “Mad World” podcast. “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 explained in the podcast that he chose to ignore his mother’s passing and the subsequent trauma for two decades, “and then two years of total chaos.” The Prince added, “And I just … I couldn’t put my finger on it, I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I thought this was part of you know, growing up or whatever.”
It was then, Prince Harry said, his brother Prince William suggested he seek counseling. “My brother you know, bless him, he was a huge support to me and kept saying ‘You know this is not right, this is not normal, you need to talk about this stuff, it’s ok.’”
Prince Harry has long been involved in making the world more aware of mental health issues. Along with his brother and sister-in-law Duchess Kate, Harry is spearheading the campaign “Heads Together,” which promotes mental health awareness and provides practical tools to friends and family of those suffering.
“I do feel in a good place,” Harry said of his post-counsel life. “Because of the process that I’ve been through over the last two and a half years, three years, I’ve now been able to take my work seriously, been able to take my private life seriously as well. And be able to put blood, sweat, and tears into the things that really make a difference. The things that I think will make a difference to everybody else.”
Prince Harry is far from alone in his struggles with mental health, however, he is one of the lucky few to receive appropriate access and care to professionals. Researchers from NYU Langone Medical Center announced Monday their findings after analyzing a federal health information database. The research team concluded that 3.4 percent of the U.S. population (more than 8.3 million) adult Americans suffer from serious psychological distress, or SPD.
Sadly, one of the study’s other key findings is that, over the course of the surveys taken from 2006 to 2014, access to health care services deteriorated for people suffering from severe distress when compared to those who did not report SPD.
“Although our analysis does not give concrete reasons why mental health services are diminishing, it could be from shortages in professional help, increased costs of care not covered by insurance, the great recession, and other reasons worthy of further investigation,” Dr. Judith Weissman, lead study investigator and a research manager in the Department of Medicine at NYU Langone, said in a statement.
The NYU Langone research team estimated that nearly one in 10 distressed Americans (9.5 percent) still did not have health insurance in 2014 that would give them access to a psychiatrist or counselor.
The Department of Health and Human Services has shared a few resources so Americans can find health care with or without insurance, if they need it here.