Don't keep it in, it's good to talk

Christmas has come early for political nerds, after our Prime Minister swapped her hiking boots for running shoes.

Theresa May returned from a walking break and caught out her rivals by announcing a seven-week election marathon.

It has dominated the headlines for the past week. While this is understandable, it does mean other news will take second billing, which is a shame, especially when the message is as strong as the one conveyed by Princes William and Harry in the hours before the election was called.

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The decision by the most popular members of the Royal Family to talk publicly about their struggles following the death of their mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, 20 years ago, is a significant one. Harry did us all a favour when he spoke about how he belatedly sought counselling to deal with the grief he had suppressed for many years.

His elder brother, the future king, has spoken about how the British obsession with maintaining a stiff upper lip is potentially damaging to our health. That two of our most famous men have chosen to talk so openly about mental health, while spearheading the Heads Together campaign, is a game changer. There is still a huge stigma attached to talking about what is on our minds.

There has been criticism from some, including those who point out that the fifth person in line to the throne won’t have the wait for counselling that most of us face. As someone who has used the NHS counselling services, I can vouch for the fact it isn’t a quick process. It is something I found useful and while I still, like all of us, have bad days, it has helped me lay many of my demons to rest.

I lost a parent when I was a young boy and I too bottled up my emotions. This grief, combined with the onset of adolescence, made for difficult teenage years. Like Harry, it took until my adult years for me to realise I had issues I couldn’t deal with on my own and that these feelings were nothing to be ashamed of. I now bore my loved ones by being evangelical about the need to talk.

To speak to someone about mental health, call Mind on 0300 1233393.