Prince Harry Says There's an 'Immense' Difference in How Therapy Is Viewed in California vs. the U.K.

On LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman's "Masters of Scale" podcast, Prince Harry said the cultural difference in the approach to therapy between California and the U.K. is "immense"

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex attends the Sitting Volleyball Competition
Prince Harry. Photo: Chris Jackson/Getty Images for the Invictus Games Foundation

Prince Harry is getting candid about how mental health is approached in the U.K. versus California.

The Duke of Sussex, 37, appeared on the newest episode of LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman's Masters of Scale podcast on Tuesday alongside BetterUp CEO Alexi Robichaux. It was announced last year that Prince Harry was taking on the role of chief impact officer for the coaching and mental health company.

Harry worked to spread awareness about the importance of mental well-being alongside his brother Prince William and sister-in-law Kate Middleton in the years before and after he met his wife Meghan Markle, yet he says it's still very much a taboo topic in the U.K.

Hoffman said on the podcast, "As a born and raised Californian myself, we would tell jokes. 'Hey, my therapist will talk to your therapist,' as a way of building a connection. I'm aware that that is a very Californian perspective."

Harry, who moved to Montecito, Calif. in 2020, replied, "You're absolutely right, Reid, about the cultural differences, they're immense. You talk about it here in California, 'I'll get my therapist to call your therapist.' Whereas in the U.K. it's like, 'Therapist? What therapist? Whose therapist? I don't have a therapist. No, I definitely don't, I've never spoken to a therapist.' "

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in The Netherlands in April 2022
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. ANP via Getty

Last year, Harry opened up about his personal experience with therapy, sharing how Meghan helped inspire his mental health journey.

"I am one of the first people to recognize that firstly, I had a fear of -- when I first went to therapy — a fear of losing," he said in the docuseries The Me You Can't See, which he co-created with Oprah Winfrey.

"It was meeting and being with Meghan, I knew that if I didn't do therapy and fix myself, that I was going to lose this woman who I could see spending the rest of my life with," he said.

Through therapy, Harry said he gained "one of the biggest lessons" in his life. "You've sometimes got to go back and to deal with really uncomfortable situations and to be able to process it in order to be able to heal. For me, therapy has equipped me to be able to take on anything. That's why I'm here now. That's why my wife is here now."

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex speaks on stage during the Invictus Games The Hague 2020 Opening Ceremony
Prince Harry. Chris Jackson/Getty Images for the Invictus Games Foundation

When Prince Harry learned about BetterUp — named one of PEOPLE's 100 Companies that Care in 2021 — after relocating to the U.S. with Meghan and their family, he was excited by their vision and ability to talk about mental fitness as opposed to mental illness.

"The chief impact officer role for me at BetterUp is 100% about driving advocacy and awareness for mental fitness," he said. "99.9% of people on planet Earth are suffering from some form of loss, trauma, or grief. It doesn't matter what age you are, but the majority of us have experienced a lot of that in our younger years, therefore we've forgotten about it. Now, the body doesn't forget, the body holds the score as we know. And therefore just as much as there's a mental health aspect to it, there's also the emotional aspect to it as well. And I think the more that we can talk about it, the more we understand it. The more we understand it, well, the more we understand each other."

Prince Harry also understands the link between physical fitness and mental wellbeing. He recounted meeting a soldier suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who was "physically shaking" and "unable to look me in the eye."

However, when the soldier returned from a ski trip, Prince Harry was amazed by his change.

"It was maybe four months later or six months later after he came back from a ski trip, had basically almost completely healed him," the Duke of Sussex recalled in the podcast. "He came back, and he was a different person, it was like I was speaking to his twin brother. But it wasn't, it was the same guy."

He added, "That's the power of sport. It literally has the ability to completely transform an individual."

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex talks to injured member of Team Netherlands basketball team, former Marine Jelle van Der Steen who was operated on last week and brought specially to be able to support his teammates during the Wheelchair Basketball competition during day six of the Invictus Games The Hague 2020 at Zuiderpark on April 21, 2022 in The Hague, Netherlands.
Prince Harry and Jelle van Der Steen. Chris Jackson/Getty

In 2014, Prince Harry founded the Invictus Games, an adaptive sports competition for service members and veterans. The fifth Games was held this month in the Netherlands, and it's become an important step in many armed forces personnel's recoveries after injuries or illness.

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Harry also wanted to shift the mindset of a patient's journey.

"Why do we keep calling it PTSD? Why do we keep calling it a disorder?" he said. "If you're going to turn around to someone and label them with a disorder, that's them screwed for the rest of their life. Why are we not calling it PTSI? It should be an injury. And if you're telling someone that they've got an injury, then guess what they're going to do? They're going to try and get better."

BetterUp made PEOPLE's annual 100 Companies That Care list in 2021. To nominate a business demonstrating outstanding respect for its employees, community and the environment, visit Great Place to Work.

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