A year after he helped to destigmatize the act of getting tested for HIV by publicly undergoing a finger prick test in Barbados, Prince Harry has a new stigma in his sights. In an interview with The Telegraph's Bryony Gordon on the debut episode of her new podcast, Mad World, Harry says he sought counseling because he put up an emotional wall for almost two decades after his mother's untimely passing.
"I can safely say that losing my mom at the age of 12 and therefore shutting down all of my emotions for the last 20 years has had quite a serious effect on not only my personal life but also my work as well," the 32-year-old told Gordon.
With the "huge support" of his brother, Prince William, Prince Harry began seeking professional help when he was 28. Though he didn't go into too much detail, Harry revealed he saw a therapist "more than a couple of times."
"I have probably been very close to a complete breakdown on numerous occasions when all sorts of grief and sort of lies and misconceptions and everything are coming to you from every angle," he admitted, noting he would also get anxiety during royal engagements.
Thanks to the help he received, Harry told Gordon he's in a "good place" now.
"I know there is huge merit in talking about your issues and the only thing about keeping it quiet is that it's only ever going to make it worse," he said.
"Because of the process that I've been through over the last 2½-3 years, I've now been able to take my work seriously, be able to take my private life seriously as well, and be able to put blood, sweat and tears into the things that really make a difference," he said.
Though Harry's admission may come as somewhat of a surprise given his notoriously private family and status as a high-profile, public figure, it actually marks the latest effort from some of the younger royals to speak openly about mental health and the importance of seeking help when necessary.
Last May, Harry was joined by his brother and sister-in-law — AKA the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge — at a boxing event to celebrate the launch of their Heads Together initiative, intended to encourage a positive dialogue about mental wellness. Coincidentally, Harry also credits boxing with helping him cope.
"Too often, people feel afraid to admit that they are struggling with their mental health," Duchess Kate said at the time. "This fear of judgment stops people from getting the help they need, which can destroy families and end lives."
Prince William added, "The more we talk about mental health, the more normal the topic becomes, and the more we feel able to open up and seek support."
A month later, in June 2016, the future King of England took his own advice and penned an essay about the importance of talking to your children about mental health. We're sure Wills is proud of Harry's decision to reveal a bit about his own personal struggle, and we tip our hats to these royals willing to speak so candidly about the importance of mental health.