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Prince Harry Sought Counselling After 'Total Chaos' Caused By Princess Diana's Death

He was 'very close to a complete breakdown on numerous occasions'.

17/04/2017 06:30 | Updated 17 April 2017

Prince Harry has talked publicly for the first time about the mental health struggles he faced following his mother’s death in the hope it will help others overcome their own grief.

He revealed he sought counselling after two years of “total chaos” having spent nearly 20 years of “not thinking” about the death of Princess Diana.

Harry was 12 years old when she was killed in a car crash but he said it was not until his late 20s that he processed the grief.

PA Wire/PA Images
Prince Harry said he had his "head in the sand".

He said he was “very close to a complete breakdown on numerous occasions” and described the “quite serious effect” losing his mother had on his life.

The 32-year-old told the Daily Telegraph: “My way of dealing with it was sticking my head in the sand, refusing to ever think about my mum, because why would that help?

“(I thought) it’s only going to make you sad, it’s not going to bring her back. So from an emotional side, I was like ‘right, don’t ever let your emotions be part of anything’.

“So I was a typical 20, 25, 28-year-old running around going ‘life is great’, or ‘life is fine’ and that was exactly it.

“And then (I) started to have a few conversations and actually all of a sudden, all of this grief that I have never processed started to come to the forefront and I was like, there is actually a lot of stuff here that I need to deal with.”

He said he shut down his emotions after her death which had “a quite serious effect on not only my personal life but my work as well”. 

The prince sought help after his brother, the Duke of Cambridge, told him: “Look, you really need to deal with this. It is not normal to think that nothing has affected you.”

PA Wire/PA Images
Prince Harry with his mother.

Prince Harry along with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have been prominent advocates of mental health issues.

Last year The Huffington Post UK collaborated with Prince William and Kate on the ‘Young Minds Matter’ project which sought solutions for the stigma surrounding the mental health crisis amongst children in the UK.

Prince Harry said: “Some of the best people or easiest people to speak to is a shrink or whoever - the Americans call them shrinks - someone you have never met before.

“You sit down on the sofa and say ‘listen, I don’t actually need your advice. Can you just listen’. And you just let it all rip.”

Asked whether he had counselling, he said: “I’ve done that a couple of times, more than a couple of times, but it’s great.”

He added that he could “safely say” his concerns were not related to his service as a soldier in Afghanistan.

Prince Harry also spoke of how boxing helped him. He told the paper: “Everyone was saying boxing is good for you and it’s a really good way of letting out aggression.

“And that really saved me because I was on the verge of punching someone.”

Prince Harry said: “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.”

His frank interview has been widely lauded and it is hoped will remove some of the stigma still present around mental health.

More people are having “life-saving” conversations about their mental health - but men and older people are far less likely to do so, a landmark survey found last month.

Nearly half of us have discussed mental health in the last three months - which was described as a “tipping point” for the issue - and 82% say discussing their own issues was helpful, according to YouGov’s poll, the most comprehensive survey of its kind for 20 years.

The gulf between the sexes is large, with only 37% of men saying they discussed mental health compared with 54% of women. A total of 57% of those aged 18 to 24 had, compared with just 32% of those over 65.

The poll was conducted to coincide with the launch of a series of films for the Heads Together campaign, launched by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.

The films feature people talking about their mental health, often with the person they first opened up to.

Useful websites and helplines:

  • Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393
  • Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.)
  • Get Connected is a free advice service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: help@getconnected.org.uk

 

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