Life&Style writer Annie Wheeler takes a look at the men opening up conversations about mental health
On the 31st of August 2017, we passed the 20th anniversary of the tragic death of Princess Diana, mother to Prince William and Harry. The two Princes took this remembrance of their mother and used it as a chance to discuss the increasingly de-stimgatized topic of mental health. Prince Harry in particular gave a personal insight into his world of “total chaos” after his mother’s death, describing the intense bouts of anxiety he faced due to his unwillingness to address his grief openly.
This candid admittance to his personal struggle with mental health allowed for a larger discussion in the media to be had about the pressure, in particular for males, to remain stoic and reserved in times of emotional turmoil. More importantly it emphasised the benefits of being able to openly speak instead of (in his own words) “shutting down” emotional feelings. Prince Harry described how being able to talk about his mental health made him “realise that actually you’re part of quite a big club” and allowed him to relieve some of the burden he was carrying.
Numerous other public figures have joined Prince Harry in this “big club”, one being the grime artist Stormzy. Renowned for his loud attitude and bold lyrics, his admittance to suffering with depression provides an important reminder that ill mental health affects a wide range of people. Stormzy reiterates Prince Harry’s statement of being part of a “big club”, saying that “If there’s anyone out there going through that, I think that for them to see that I went through it would help.” Again the message is clear, inclusion is key in allowing people to open up about mental illness. The more conversation is had about topics of mental health, the more willing people will be to open up and get talking.
Therefore, the next obvious step is to encourage young males to want to speak out and join the growing number of those speaking about their mental health. Hearing the personal experiences from a wide range of inspiring public figures is no doubt uplifting to a generation of males who have been taught to hold in emotions. If these inspirational figures can cope with their mental health issues and speak out about it, then what is stopping the everyday person.
However, I also believe, whilst these famous males are certainly pioneers for mental health, it is crucial that we find pioneers in our personal lives too. Whether that be a family member or friend, hearing someones experience close to home can be constructive in moving forwards in positive conversations about mental health. Perhaps in speaking out about your own personal struggle, you can also become a mental health pioneer.