The series is part of their Heads Together campaign
Words by Megan C. Hills
Opening up about mental health can be hard, but Prince William, Kate Middleton and Prince Harry’s latest efforts aim to make the conversation a little easier. As part of the royal’s Heads Together campaign to fight the stigma around mental illness, a short film series named #oktosay has been released. It features twelve interviews with mental health sufferers, including rapper Professor Green, and focuses on the moment they reached out for help.
‘When you realise that mental health problems affect your friends, neighbours, children and spouses, the walls of judgment and prejudice around these issues begin to fall. And we all know that you cannot resolve a mental health issue by staying silent,’ the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge said in a joint statement.
Spanning different conditions, people and relationships, the series encourages individuals not to suffer in silence with the tagline ‘Two heads are better than one’. Each deeply honest chat shines a light on why it can be difficult for people vocalise their mental health struggles, as well as why it’s important to do so to look after yourself.
The royals’ celebrity mental health videos include Alistair Blair, former director of communications to Tony Blair, who said he ‘couldn’t talk’ at the height of his alcoholism with consequent breakdowns that included an act of self-harm where he began punching himself in the face in public. In another video, model Adwoa Aboah spoke to her mother Camilla Lowther about hiding her depression (which led to a suicide attempt) and how in hindsight she couldn’t ‘believe it was that simple’ to receive help once she’d opened up about her condition.
Professional footballer Rio Ferdinand and his agent Jamie Moralee also spoke openly in one video about the sportsman’s bereavement, following the death of his wife Rebecca Ellison from breast cancer in 2015. Talking about what those close to mental health sufferers can do, Moralee said, ‘I think my job as your pal is to step in at those moments and say are you alright mate? Is there anything I can do, do you need to talk?’
Partnering with charities such as the Anna Freud Centre and Professor Green’s male suicide prevention initiative CALM, the Heads Together campaign has sparked a national conversation about mental wellbeing in the country and proceeds from the Virgin Money London Marathon will go towards the charity.
A January survey conducted by YouGov stated that at least two thirds of the British population know someone with mental health problems. YouGov also released statistics to Heads Together that out of 5000 people polled, eight out of ten people diagnosed have found talking with others about their struggles has helped them.
The royals said of #oktosay, “Attitudes to mental health are at a tipping point. We hope these films show people how simple conversations can change the direction of an entire life.”
Heads Together has compiled resources for those suffering from mental illness, which can be accessed here.