Prince Harry’s revelations to the British press a few weeks ago that he had multiple mental health breakdowns have shocked the world because most people believe that the rich and the powerful are immune from such anguish. Almost everyone knows Prince Harry’s taste for globe-trotting and having good times.
Guyana has made it on his list of places where he visited and had a good time. His trip has brought us good things from his grandmother, the Queen. Prince Harry, the fifth heir to the British Throne, always seems to be happy, but his recent revelation that his life was a mix of bitter and sweet since his mother’s death on August 31, 1997 when he was only age 12. The Prince admitted that he was filled with rage, grief and mental anguish and few knew how deeply he mourned and the pain he felt after he lost his mother.
Prince Harry told the world that his mother’s death was his greatest loss and that he only managed to survive after he took counselling to help him deal with the emotional scars. The lesson one can learn from his story is that royalty or no royalty, pain and suffering affects everyone and being rich or poor or powerful makes no difference.
However, Prince Harry was able to disguise the serious mental health challenges he had faced with excitement and glamor which follows him wherever he goes. As a result, the deeper challenges often went unnoticed. We in Guyana have been happy to see him, not only because he is a Prince, but for the global media attention the country receives from the visit.
Indeed, Prince Harry’s visit to Guyana last year made the headlines in all of the major networks in the US and Britain.
Over the years, Prince Harry attended several charity events to assist young people while battling with pain and grief like any ordinary person caught up in mourning. Sometimes we tend to get carried away with the belief that people of privilege do not feel pain or anguish like we do. However, the saying by a wise person, “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown” is true in Prince Harry’s case.
Prince Harry’s chaotic behaviour during his teen years and early 20s is well known, however, his revelation of his agony due to his mother’s death could have caused some of that chaos. The interview by the Royal Highnesses was graciously received and praised by mental health advocates and experts, who said that Prince Harry has done more in raising awareness of mental health in 25 minutes than they had done in 25 years.
They believe that his candid public discussion of mental health and addiction problems should end the taboo and the fear of mental health problems. It shows that attitudes are changing globally with increasing numbers of high profile public figures speaking about their mental health struggles.
Prince Harry has shared with the public the intimate details of how he coped with the pain and depression, and even though his vulnerability was not something he initially wanted the world to know about, sharing his story should place more focus on mental health issues. Nonetheless, tackling mental health issues is not going to be easy. There are still cultural issues at play when it comes to breaking the taboo.
The World Health Organization reports that one in four people or roughly 500 million people in the world are affected by mental or neurological orders, thus placing mental illness among the leading causes ill-health worldwide.
In Guyana, it is estimated that one in three persons is affected by mental health which suggests that people should be more compassionate and understanding in order to de-stigmatize mental ill-health issues.
The more influential people like Prince Harry speak about their battles with mental health, the better.
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