Prince William documentary sparks important conversation about mental health and male suicide

Olivia Petter

The BBC’s new documentary fronted by the Duke of Cambridge has prompted an important discussion on men’s mental health and male suicide.

Royal Team Talk saw the future King engage in a roundtable discussion with sporting heroes, including Thierry Henry, Gareth Southgate and Peter Crouch, about overcoming the most difficult moments in their careers by being open about what they were going through.

“Guys, in general, find it very difficult to talk about their feelings – doing what we’re doing here makes a huge difference,” said Prince William.

In the discussion, the men talk about feeling “forbidden to cry” at times, with Southgate referencing football’s “culture of not opening up about anything in your life without being seen as weak”.

“But that’s the key,” the England manager continued, “it isn’t a weakness, it’s actually a strength.”

Powerful moments such as these have sparked widespread praise on Twitter, with many viewers sharing anecdotes about how being open or playing in team sports helped them combat mental health issues.

Speaking about his brother, who took his own life in 2014, mental health campaigner Jonny Sharples wrote: “When Simon died by suicide four years ago, I’d never have imagined we’d see the England manager on TV openly discussing his mental health.

“I wish Simon could’ve seen a programme like#ARoyalTeamTalk, but there’s comfort in knowing countless others will feel the benefit of seeing it.”

Another person revealed how playing football helped him overcome a long battle with drug and alcohol abuse.

“I have been clean now over two years and run my own football group for others now. Don’t be ashamed. You are not alone. It’s ok to not be ok.#ARoyalTeamTalk#MentalHealth,” he wrote.

Labour MP Stella Creasy was also among those to praise the documentary, writing: “Extraordinary programme on BBC 1 right now about men’s mental health with Prince William, Gareth Southgate, Peter Crouch, Dan Walker, Thierry Henry, Jermaine Jenas and Danny Rose all being incredibly open and compelling. Well worth a watch#mensteamtalk.”

In the documentary, Prince William opens up about his experience with bereavement, describing the loss of his mother, Princess Diana, as a “pain like no other pain”.

Royal Team Talk is available to watch on BBC iPlayer here.

If you have been affected by any issues mentioned in this article, you can contact The Samaritans for free on 116 123 or any of the following mental health organisations:

mind.org.uk

nhs.uk/livewell/mentalhealth

mentalhealth.org.uk

samaritans.org

anxietyuk.org.uk