Prince William warns calling NHS staff heroes could harm their mental health

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·Royal Correspondent
·3-min read
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LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 23: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge takes part in the BBC Children In Need and Comic Relief 'Big Night In at London on April 23, 2020 in London, England.The 'Big Night In' brings the nation an evening of unforgettable entertainment in a way we've never seen before. Raising money for and paying tribute to those on the front line fighting Covid-19 and all the unsung heroes supporting their communities. (Photo by Comic Relief/BBC Children in Need/Comic Relief via Getty Images)
William said people should be cautious about the language used. (Getty Images)

Prince William has urged people to be careful in the language used to speak about NHS staff during the coronavirus pandemic, to safeguard their mental health.

William, 37, said NHS staff have been rightly labelled heroes, but he said he feared they might feel they can’t reach out for help when they need it.

His comments came as the nation prepared to clap for carers for the last time, with the founder of the grassroots movement calling for an end to the weekly applause.

And the duke spoke in his documentary on mental health, filmed with footballers and football fans across the UK.

Read more: Prince William says poor eyesight helped his stage fright - because faces became a blur

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 05: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge shakes hands with a guest as he plays table football while launching The Heads Up Weekends on February 5, 2020 in London, England. The prince who is President of the Football Association (FA), attended a special event in London to launch The Heads Up Weekends, which will see every football team from all the leagues dedicate their matches to Heads Up, to highlight the importance of talking about mental health. (Photo by Frank Augstein - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
William is using football to get more people to speak about mental health. (Getty Images)

In a video clip, shown on the BBC’s One Show, the duke said: “We made the NHS frontline staff, rightly, heroes.

“But in doing so, we once again, give them the burden that we gave our soldiers fighting in the war, where everyone was so grateful and wanted to show their appreciation as to their fighting for their freedoms and everything.

“And I think we’ve got to be very careful with the language that we use.

“They should rightly be hailed as superstars, and brave, and wonderful staff; but I’m very conscious from a mental health point of view that we don’t alienate some of them.

“Where they feel that once they have this hero tag, they can no longer shake that, and therefore they can’t ask for support, they have to be this strong pillar of strength, when actual fact what we need them to be is examples of positive mental health.

“Doing the job, beating this pandemic, helping and caring for so many people, but also looking after themselves so that they come through this in one piece and we’re not having broken NHS staff all over the country.”

Read more: Prince William echoes parents' worries as he says 'children don't understand social distancing'

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have spent the last few weeks working from home, making calls to staff in the NHS and care homes around the country.

They have made the mental health of NHS staff and key workers the focus of their work, launching Our Frontline, an initiative which provides access to support 24 hours a day.

The duke also called for wider mental health support, as the country battles the pandemic, saying it had left many “anxious and uncertain”.

Football, Prince William And Our Mental Health will be broadcast on Thursday at 8.05pm on BBC One.

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