Prince Harry sought therapy in his late 20s to cope with grief
The British royal "shut down" all of his emotions for years after losing his mother, Princess Diana
Prince Harry has opened up about his mental health struggle, admitting to The Telegraph that he sought counselling to deal with grief nearly two decades after losing his mother, the late Princess Diana. In a candid 30-minute conversation, the 32-year-old revealed that after his mother's tragic passing, he tried his best not to think of her, only to feel the negative effects later on.
"I can safely say that losing my mum 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 my work as well," he said.
Despite the prince being "very close to a complete breakdown on numerous occasions", it was only after feeling like he was "on the verge of punching someone" and having an uneasy "fight or flight" reaction during royal engagements, did he decide to speak to a mental health professional. The prince also took up boxing as a way to deal with his aggression.
📻 Prince Harry features as the first guest on the new 'Mad World' podcast from the @telegraph's Bryony Gordon, who will run for @Heads_Together in next week's @LondonMarathon. On the podcast, Prince Harry speaks candidly about his own experience with mental health and encourages everyone to do the same. Please have a listen to the full podcast via the link in our bio.
"My way of dealing with [the loss of Princess Diana] was sticking my head in the sand, refusing to ever think about my mum, because why would that help? It's only going to make you sad, it's not going to bring her back," he explained. "All of a sudden, all the grief I have never processed started to come to the forefront [...] It was 20 years of not thinking about it, and then two years of total chaos."
On choosing to seek help at the age of 28, Prince Harry's brother, Prince William gave him the push he really needed: "And for me personally, my brother, you know, bless him, he was a huge support to me. He kept saying this is not right, this is not normal, you need to talk to [someone] about stuff, it's okay."
Prince Harry now feels he is in a "good place" and hopes that sharing his experience will help to "normalise the conversation" surrounding mental health issues.
"Because of the process I have been through over the past two and a half years, I've now been able to take my work seriously, been able to take my private life seriously as well, and been able to put blood, sweat and tears into the things that really make a difference and things that I think will make a difference to everybody else," he says.
Aptly enough, both the princes as well as Duchess Kate started Heads Together, a charity which fosters mental well-being. Prince Harry's brave move has also already had a positive impact on the community – the British ministry is now working towards providing full-time professional mental health services in secondary schools to help students tackle depression and anxiety issues.