A red-headed boy, stepping a slow and sombre march through the grey streets, behind a carriage.
It’s an early image that is seared into the memory of many us – a 12-year old Prince Harry, walking respectfully behind his mother’s coffin. A walk that would be too much to cope with for many a grown man, let alone a small child.
And yet he did, with a dignity beyond expectation.
Over the years he has revealed himself to us in a way that his mother would doubtlessly have been very proud of. Full of humanity. Making mistakes. Moving On. And sharing, with that same bravery, some of his personal struggles.
As part of the “Heads Together’’ initiative, Harry has helped start conversations around aspects of mental health that are still deeply steeped in stigma. He has opened up about the impact of losing his mother, and of the life he lived after this. He has candidly shared how he has struggled for 20 years with aspects of his own mental health. He has done this in a way that has enabled others to start to also speak about these topics, too.
Over the past week during Mental Health Awareness Week, he has continued tirelessly to encourage greater awareness around mental health. He has made podcasts with Bryony Gordon, and carried out various other interviews and initiatives, to start and stir these conversations in order to help others.
As we are starting to become aware of the size of the problems that mental health issues present across the globe, we are also starting to become more aware of the scope of possible solutions. We are starting to learn about the impacts of genetics, of lifestyle, and of thought patterns on how we function. But it is just the beginning of what is starting to happen, what needs to happen, with regards to mental health awareness.
As Mental Health Awareness week draws to its conclusion, it has laid a foundation for new understanding and improved dialogue around mental health. It is hopefully the start of a new era, in both conversation and action, around mental health. The start of a new chapter, one that can be of benefit to us all.
Similarly, a marriage ceremony is the start of a new chapter for a couple.
And so, Meghan and Harry’s wedding will surely be a joyous occasion this weekend for many reasons. Not only will there be celebrations due to the traditions and ceremonies surrounding a royal wedding.
It is also an occasion to celebrate a Prince who has endured much, and who is devoted to helping others through his experiences and position.
To see him, and his new bride, happily start a new chapter together.
Dr Rachel Thomas – Medical Doctor
Rachel studied Medicine and Surgery at Oxford University, and has completed a Masters in Neuroscience and Psychology of Mental Health at Kings. She completed Biomedical Engineering (Hons 1) and Science degrees at Berkeley and Sydney University.
Rachel is a practising doctor and healthcare innovator, and speaks on the importance of mental health and delivers insight as a doctor. Additionally, Rachel is responsible for content production with Cognacity case studies, blogs and press articles.