Prince William, Jonny Wilkinson, and Jamie Murray talk mental health as sport returns

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·2-min read
Undated handout screengrab issued by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) of the Duke of Cambridge joining England rugby hero Jonny Wilkinson and other sporting greats to discuss the issue of mental health across UK sport during a Zoom call.
The Duke of Cambridge joining England rugby hero Jonny Wilkinson and others on a Zoom call. (DCMS/PA Images)

Prince William has joined sports stars including England rugby hero Jonny Wilkinson and tennis champion Jamie Murray on a zoom call to talk about mental health as sport returns.

William, 37, has spent much of the last year looking at how the stigma around mental health can be broken down, and has used football to encourage men in particular to start conversations with friends.

Now he has joined together stars from across the sporting world, telling them it is “vital” to talk about mental wellbeing as life begins to get some semblance of normality after the coronavirus pandemic.

Also on the call were Paralympic swimmer Ellie Simmonds, Paralympic cyclist Dame Sarah Storey, skeleton racer Lizzy Yarnold, and former Arsenal and Lionesses footballer Alex Scott.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden also joined them, as did former England international Ledley King, and England international hockey player Maddie Hinch.

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William told them: “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.

“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.

“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.”

Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge (L) and Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge react as they attempt to play hurling during a visit to Salthill Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) club in Galway, western Ireland, on March 5, 2020 on the final day of their three day visit. (Photo by Paul Faith / AFP) (Photo by PAUL FAITH/AFP via Getty Images)
William has used sport to encourage Britons to talk about their mental health. (Getty Images)

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According to Press Association, those on the call shared their own experiences and told of how maintaining good mental health helped them to be better athletes.

The roundtable was part of a review of Government’s Mental Health and Elite Sport Action Plan.

Dowden said: “Looking after our mental health is as important as our physical health, particularly through the pandemic which has brought about additional stress and change.

“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.”

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William has been vocal about mental health throughout the pandemic, encouraging people to reach out and to start conversations.

He has also been volunteering as a counsellor on the text-based crisis line Shout, which was launched by the Royal Foundation last year.