Prince Harry Steps Out to Support Service Members' Mental Health
Armed forces champion Prince Harry took his mental health campaign to a rehabilitation center on Monday.
Former army captain Harry, who has highlighted the hidden wounds of warfare for those who serve, visited Tedworth House run by Help for Heroes, where he met those involved in a program to build an “Iron Age Round House” to provide an opportunity for reflection and team work. He also visited the “hero garden,” which offers the chance to work creatively outdoors and build an understanding of the value of nutrition in well-being.
“Getting back your mental as well as your physical fitness is a really important thing,” Harry said during the visit. “One of the biggest struggles is accepting that there is a problem in the first place.”
At the center, in Wiltshire around 80 miles southwest of London, the charity also runs a psychological support service. The service allows people to make contact by phone, Skype or online, to speak to an experienced Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner (PWP) — ultimately enabling them to self-manage their issues and therefore build their resilience and confidence so they can lead fulfilling lives after leaving the military.
The royal, 32, shared a candid exchange with several service members who have been helped by the charity.
“This is why this place helps, just getting out, getting my head clear,” said Mike Day, 34, formerly a sniper section commander whose back was broken when he was hit by a Grenada in Afghanistan in 2009. Alongside him was Eddie Beddoes, 42, an ex-infantry soldier who suffered terrible injuries after being hit in Bosnia in 1995.
“Let’s be honest, if it wasn’t for this? Did you both turn to the bottle?” Harry asked the men.
“I did when I got out, for quite a few years,” said Beddoes candidly, “but then you settle down and have a family. But then there are the ups and downs associated with that.”
“Was one of the biggest struggles accepting that there was a problem in the first place?” asked Harry. “Not only accepting, but realizing that there was something wrong in the first place?”
“To be honest, the most difficult thing was accepting that I would never get back the person I was before,” said Day.
Harry replied, “Getting back your mental health, mental well-being, your mental fitness is a really important thing. Rather than operating at 50 or 60 percent, you can operate at 80 or 90 percent and be a better person. Look at what you have achieved with this. It is remarkable.”
Help for Heroes is a member of Contact, a partner of the charity umbrella Heads Together, which Harry, brother Prince William and Princess Kate updated supporters on last week. The mental health campaign is the charity partner of the London Marathon in April.
Meanwhile, Harry’s girlfriend Meghan Markle has been focused on her own charity work, making a trip to India on behalf of World Vision.