Prince William shares importance of mental health among frontline workers in Belfast

Prince William visited Northern Ireland on Wednesday, in a surprise trip to thank 999 workers. The visit marked Emergency Services or ‘999 day’, which celebrates the amazing work the emergency services carry out.

The Duke of Cambridge is still seeking to raise more awareness of mental health amongst emergency services workers.

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Prince William meets with Chiefs of the PSNI, Fire Service and Ambulance Service

William visited the Police Service of Northern Ireland Academy in Belfast, where he thanked workers on the frontline for their work during the Coronavirus pandemic.

“As you care for us in our time of need, so too must we ensure that we are there for you when you need it the most,” he said in a speech to emergency service workers.

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Prince William attends a PSNI Wellbeing Volunteer Training course to talk about mental health support within the emergency services at PSNI Garnerville.

“I know first-hand, that even in routine circumstances, those of you on the front line can face immense challenges that can naturally have a significant impact on both your physical and mental health.

Prince William spoke about his own experiences working on the frontline from his time with the East Anglian Air Ambulance and the strains that came with the role. The future King was a pilot from 2015 to 2017.

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Duke of Cambridge beginning his first shift as Air Ambulance Pilot in 2015.

“I couldn’t put my finger on it, but you just felt very sad,” he said during a workshop with emergency first responders talking about how they deal with the traumatic events they witness.

“For me it was the sadness, I really felt the sadness, I’d absorb the jobs I’d gone to,” he said. “Sadly with the Air Ambulance you get a lot of deaths and I didn’t realise (the impact) – I would go to the next one and the next one.”

During his visit to the college, Prince William also met five-month-old Irish setter Tara, who has been trained to provide comfort to those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

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Prince William meets five-month-old Irish setter, Tara, who is trained in providing support to those with PTSD

He highlighted the need to enhance support services and create a culture where people feel comfortable to talk about what they are going through.

The Duke of Cambridge also visited Belfast Castle and Cavehill Country Park, where he had the pleasure of meeting Community Rescue Service volunteers, including the founder and regional commander Sean McCarry.

William watched a demonstration of how casualties are rescued and brought to safety.

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The Duke of Cambridge speaks with Community Rescue Service (CRS) founder and regional commander Sean McCarry

The aim to break down the stigma around mental health issues has been one of the main aims for The Duke of Cambridge, with mental health one amongst a number of core causes he seeks to highlight.

The visit follows on from The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge announcing £1.8 million in support for mental health for those on the frontline. Prince William also visited workers at King’s Lynn Hospital during the pandemic to thank them for their work.

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