"As the sporting world begins to return it is vital that we talk about the mental wellbeing of our sportspeople and fans," Prince William said during a roundtable discussion

By Maria Pasquini
June 14, 2020 07:01 PM
Prince William
Chris Jackson - WPA Pool/Getty

Focusing on mental health is something that’s important for everybody, including athletes.

Earlier this week, Prince William attended a call-in roundtable discussion with a number of elite athletes, along with Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. The conversation was held as many across the U.K. are returning to work in the midst of coronavirus restrictions beginning to be lifted.

Many of the athletes spoke about how their own careers had been strengthened by focusing on their mental health, and they also discussed how the sporting world can do their part to help the general population as they emerge from lockdown.

During the call, the Duke of Cambridge stressed the importance of having a culture that supports mental health present within all sports, and he also spoke about his mental health campaign Heads Up, which has been promoted alongside soccer in the U.K. throughout the season.

Prince William

“Through the Heads Up campaign, the football community has come together to do its part in driving lasting change by encouraging people to open up about their mental wellbeing, at the same time as embedding a mentally healthy culture across the sport,” William said.

“I believe that there is more we can do collectively to ensure this is replicated across all of sport. And that is why I am so happy to be here with you all to discuss how we can make that a reality,” he added. “We have a unique opportunity to use the tragedy of the pandemic to bring about positive change. As the sporting world begins to return it is vital that we talk about the mental wellbeing of our sportspeople and fans.”

William’s initiative, which was also featured in a documentary, is set to culminate at the FA Cup final, slated for Aug. 1, when the showpiece game will be named the Heads Up FA Cup final. The games are set to re-start next week.

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The group of athletes in attendance included former Arsenal and Lionesses player Alex Scott, Jonny Wilkinson, who was a part of England’s 2003 Rugby World Cup victory, as well as Dame Sarah Storey and Lizzie Yarnold, two of the most successful female Paralympians and Winter Olympians.

“Looking after our mental health is as important as our physical health, particularly through the pandemic which has brought about additional stress and change,” said Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

“The resumption of sport behind closed doors coincides with many people returning to work too, so it’s a good time to make sure everyone knows support is available,” Dowden added. “It was great to be joined by HRH the Duke of Cambridge, mental health organizations and some of the biggest names in British sport to talk about mental health. Sport is leading the way in this important conversation, and I pay tribute to football and the Duke for leading a generational shift to attitudes on mental health”.

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Kate Middleton and Prince William during their volunteer week calls
Kensington Palace

Prince William and wife Kate Middleton have repeatedly stressed the importance of mental health, as the health crisis has caused many to experience stress, anxiety, and isolation.

Earlier this month, it was revealed that William has been volunteering for Shout85258, a crisis text line. The royal is one of more than 2,000 crisis volunteers who are trained to support anyone, anytime, whatever their crisis may be.

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