Prince William joined fellow campaigners and familiar friends as he took his campaign for better well-being in the workplace to a top-level conference.
The prince, 36, braved the rain on Tuesday to attend the first This Can Happen conference in London alongside friend Neil Laybourn, with whom he has been highlighting the issue of mental health for males.
William joined a session on mental health and took part in an interactive training workshop being piloted by a selection of companies in Britain as part of an effort to recognize the well-being of staff.
William has previously spoke on the issue of mental well-being at work, sharing about his own challenges while working as an air ambulance pilot.
William shared on Tuesday on a panel that when he and Kate welcomed children of their own, 5-year-old Prince George and 3-year-old Princess Charlotte (later joined by 7-month-old Prince Louis), some of his “traumatic” jobs that involved kids injured in car accidents took a toll on him.
“The relation between the job and the personal life was what really took me over the edge. And I started feeling things that I’ve never felt before. And I got very sad and very down about this particular family,” he said. “You start to take away bits of the job and keep them in your body. And of course, you don’t want to share with your loved ones because you just don’t want to bring that sort of stuff home.”
He continued, “So the only place you can talk about it is at work and if you don’t necessarily have the right tools or the right environment at work, you can see why things can snowball and get quite bad.”
William said he was pleased that the military was taking steps to incorporate mental health into their training to deal with the pressure and stress that comes with their jobs.
Laybourn later told reporters, “What the Duke said today took everyone by surprise. Being a guy and being socially conditioned, whether you’re in the royal family or not, to keep in your feelings and then beat that to speak about them is great.”
He added, “It’s quite something for him, in his position, to say, ‘You’re not infallible.’ People need that inspiration from leaders and they need to hear it from someone like Prince William.”
William emphasized the importance of taking mental health seriously.
“We all have mental health. Just as we look after our physical health, we look after our mental health,” said the royal father of three.
William discussed how male employees are less likely than their female coworkers to seek support when experiencing a mental health problem.
“What I’ve noticed is we could really use some more voices in the workplace. Standing up and saying, ‘Yeah, I’ve been there. I’ve done that, and I could have done more,” he shared. “I think setting a culture of this open, understanding, supportive environment in the workplace where HR is a door that people feel they can go to, I think that’s really important.”
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Tuesday’s conference was set up by Zoe Sinclair of “Employees Matter” and she has joined with Jonny Benjamin and Laybourn, who have been longstanding campaigners on the problems of suicide. They made the groundbreaking film Strangers on the Bridge for British TV, telling the story of Benjamin seeking out the stranger who had helped him when he was at crisis point on Waterloo Bridge over the River Thames in London.
The pair took part in the London marathon in 2017 on behalf of Heads Together, the umbrella mental health project that William leads along with his wife, Kate Middleton, and brother, Prince Harry. Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, is expected to also add her own area of action under the campaign in the coming months.
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