The Dark Knight of Mental Health

Prince Harry isn’t supposed to see a counsellor. He has everything he could possibly want in this world.

He is entitled, rich, had his life served on a silver platter. His problems are not large enough to cause him to have depression or anxiety.

No doubt, Harry is being ostracised by many people. Despite Harry saying grief affects everyone, some will still take the obtuse stance that he cannot have such problems. Some will still very vocally believe he should man up. They will believe this is rightly so, as he quite literally, has the best life in the country. He shouldn’t be able to have problems with his mental health. He doesn’t have the struggle of wondering where your next night sleep will be or where the next meal is coming from. His problems are comparatively miniscule to the rest of the UK. 

The reality of the situation is, his life is definitely not perfect. But to outside observers it definitely seems to be.

Prince Harry probably got told for years to simply cheer up and deal with his issues. His mother dying was a global issue. He has to keep a stiff upper lip while walking behind the coffin down the Mall. He had to be strong for the sake of a grieving nation. His mother dying was simply part of his life. He himself said he tried to bottle it up. Maybe he bottled it up because he didn’t have a leg to stand on, or that stiff upper lip was simply too strong. There was always someone suffering more than him, the public was in more pain than him. 

Often mental health patients are told to cheer up, or that it’s not all that bad, or that someone is always suffering more than them. Anyone with anxiety will know the irony in that statement. If you know anyone who suffers from anxiety, you know they will worry about just about anything. The fact they are told not to worry, or to bottle it up will make them more worried and feel worse about their issues. They feel they are burden to their friends by even thinking about it.

What Prince Harry’s frankness and openness does is shows the world that anyone can have issues. Your situation should not define how important your mental health problems are. Just because you have a beautiful girlfriend, a load of money, a privileged life doesn’t mean you are not suffering in silence to a potentially deadly disease such as depression. Mental health is not something that is situational, it is emotional and Prince Harry is helping us realise that.

Despite Harry being a figurehead for such a compelling, new world issue, he is so much more than a figurehead. Even though his openness about his grief of his mother’s death shows the world that mental health issues can affect anyone, he is more importantly, a martyr.

Despite clearly having a reason to not be okay, many will still take this viewpoint, that he is not ‘allowed’ to be ill or that he has to ‘check his privilege’. Although these people are morally wrong on so many levels, it does show the most important legacy for mental health this simple news gives us. 

The Dark Knight is one of my favourite films. Great direction, just a simple story, which is fantastically told. And Hans Zimmer does the music, self explanatory to why that’s great. But the fantastic story eloquently tells us what Harry is.

Because we have to chase him. Because he’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now, so we’ll hunt him. Because he can take it, because he’s not a hero. He’s a silent guardian, a watchful protector, a Dark Knight.

Like Batman, Harry is a Dark Knight. He is a pariah to some right now. He is a visionary to some. He is simply honest to many. However way you like it Harry has provided people with a reason to talk about mental health and change their perspectives. He is not the outright hero that we expect to see. He is the unspoken, humble hero mental health deserves. He can be made into whatever is needed based on your understanding of mental health issues.

This simple yet drastic news is going to propel the case of mental health forward for the better. If he can be honest with the world about his issues, when he ‘shouldn’t’ have problems, then so can you. There is no longer a need to hide your problems.

If you think Harry needs to man up, you can use him as the scape goat. Maybe Harry shows you that your problems matter; if Harry can have issues, then maybe your friends parental relationship complex isn’t as minor as you once thought. He can be a figurehead; if you are an advocate of mental health issues and aim to shower praise on him, you can get involved with Harry and William’s Heads Together campaign. If you want that courage to finally go tell your parents about your seemingly minor issues, you can now use our Prince as your strength to go tell them.

If you think that you are making a big deal out of nothing, then don’t worry Harry did it too. If you think you should man up and bottle it up, don’t – Harry didn’t. If someone is telling you not to say anything because someone has it worse off than you, Harry was open about his problems and most of the world has it worse off than him. Harry is the lightning rod of criticism for those who don’t understand that anyone can suffer from mental illnesses, he is the watchful eye, quietly donating, he is the strength you never knew you needed, the hero bold enough to speak out, starting a conversation on mental health, he is whatever the movement and sufferers need him to be. 

He is the Dark Knight of Mental Health. 

words by Frazer Worboys

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