The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s work with mental health over the years has not gone unnoticed, and throughout the coronavirus pandemic the couple’s loyalty to the cause hasn't faltered. They have held video calls with hospital staff, care workers and frontline staff to discuss the impact on their mental health; visited NHS 111 call handlers before lockdown began; and launched the Our Frontline initiative, a text crisis line to provide round-the-clock mental health support for key workers. And now, Prince William is highlighting the potential mental health impact of setting NHS frontline staff up as ‘heroes’.
Speaking exclusively on BBC’s The One Show ahead of his documentary, Football, Prince William And Our Mental Health, the Prince expressed his gratitude to those working on the NHS frontline in the fight against COVID-19, calling them "superstars".
“I think we've got to be very careful with the language that we use,” he cautioned, explaining that referring to NHS workers as "heroes" may deter them from seeking support, as they may feel pressure to appear “strong”, per the BBC.
Prince William called on NHS workers to look after themselves, “so that they come through this in one piece”, and to avoid a legacy of “broken NHS staff” post-pandemic. He added that it's important not to “alienate” key workers, from a mental health point of view.
“We made the NHS frontline staff, rightly, heroes,” Prince William said. “But in doing so, we once again give them the burden that we gave our soldiers fighting in the war, where everyone was so grateful and wanted to show their appreciation as to their fighting for their freedoms and everything.”
“Where they feel that once they have this hero tag, they can no longer shake that, and therefore they can't ask for support. They have to be this strong pillar of strength, when in actual fact what we need them to be is examples of positive mental health,” he continued.
Prince William also called on communities to “plug the gaps” where hospitals do not have a good staff support network. He acknowledged that the “scary” global pandemic has left many “anxious and uncertain”, and called for wider mental health support throughout country.