The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has credited The Duke of Cambridge with encouraging him to seek help for his mental health.
The Archbishop revealed, in a piece for the Sunday Times, that the friendship that he shares with Prince William, who will one day become Head of the Church of England, helped during a time when he was struggling with his own mental health.
The Archbishop explained: “I am deeply grateful to His Royal Highness for speaking publicly about mental health and hope it might encourage others who are suffering alone to seek help and support”.
He continued: “It encouraged me to seek help when I was struggling, help which was effective”.
It is understood that Archbishop Welby spoke to both William and his younger brother, Prince Harry, about his battle with depression. In turn, the Princes are said to have spoken to him about their own struggles with their mental health.
Writing in the article, the Archbishop referred to depression as “the black dog” and that he has “those moments…when objectively everything is fine, but you think you are, beyond description, hopeless”.
The Archbishop told readers that, after acknowledging that he needed assistance with his mental health from outside sources, he sought help professionally and has also taken medication.
Talking about his mental health, the Archbishop revealed that he experienced what he called a “noisy, disturbed childhood” while being raised by divorced parents who also battled with alcoholism. He then suffered a further blow in 2016 when he found out the man he thought was his father, Gavin Welby, was in fact not. His biological father turned out to be Sir Anthony Montague Browne, a private secretary to Winston Churchill.
Welby’s revelation comes at the end of Mental Health Awareness Week and just a few days before the premiere of William’s new documentary for the BBC – ‘Football, Prince William and Our Mental Health’. The documentary follows the Duke’s ‘Heads Up’ campaign (a legacy of the Heads Together campaign) to get men to open up about their mental health issues by using football as a way to get them talking and break the taboo.
In new footage released by the BBC yesterday, the Duke said that having children brought back emotions from his mother’s death and that he and Catherine support one another.
Today, a reflection recorded by the Duke was played during streamed services to mark the end of Mental Health Awareness Week. In it, William – who has been an advocate for mental health for many years now – spoke about how the Christian faith can help people navigate “through uncertain times”.
The message was recorded from Anmer Hall, where William is currently isolating with his family. In it the Duke said: “I want to encourage anyone who has concerns about their own mental health, or that of others, to reach out.
“For some that may be through prayer and quiet reflection; for others it could be talking to a fellow parishioner, friend or family member about how they are feeling. Whoever you talk to…finding the words to open up can be a life-changing step.”
"Now, more than ever, it is important that we talk to one another about issues that we're struggling with. And it is OK to not feel OK."
— The Church of England (@churchofengland) May 25, 2020
‘Football, Prince William and Our Mental Health’ will be shown on BBC One at 8:05pm on Thursday 28th May.